Weather is not the only thing delaying travelers this week.
U.S. government spending cuts forced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ax $637 million from its budget this year and to furlough it staff, the FAA confirmed.
Air traffic controllers are now required to take one day off without pay for every 10 days of work. That will come to 11 days of furlough per employee by the end of the year.
With fewer eyes on the skies, the FAA estimates the furlough could delay as many as 6,700 flights per day at 13 of the country’s largest hubs, including John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
On Monday, the first weekday of the furloughs, JFK already experienced delays.
“I didn’t know about [the furlough], but I’ve been waiting for my flight for over an hour now. I’m flying to Tampa and it’s been delayed,” said Matt Frankel.
“My flight has been delayed for almost two hours. This is ridiculous,” said one traveler.
But Joan Lamercka said she had no issues with her flight.
“My flight actually went pretty smoothly—no delays. But I can see how this would cause problems,” she said.
The FAA said there were 1,200 delays throughout the counrty as a result of the furlough on Monday. The body attributed an additional 1,400 delays to the weather and other factors.
Senator Charles Schumer said the FAA estimates there could be delays of up to 80 minutes out of LaGuardia and 50 minutes at JFK. He called on the Senate to repeal the cuts and is pushing to make up the revenue by closing tax loopholes.
“These furloughs will turn every day into a blizzard as far as flying is concerned,” said Schumer. “These delays can and must be avoided by passing a balanced budget to repeal the sequester through both closing tax loopholes and by making smart cuts.”
-Additional reporting by Luke Tabet