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Gov. Scott Targets Air Traffic Controller Furloughs

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Gov. Rick Scott (Source: CBS4)

Gov. Rick Scott (Source: CBS4)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – While one in 10 air traffic controllers have been forced to take furlough days to help balance the federal budget, so far, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale International Airport have avoided any lengthy delays through Monday morning.

The air traffic controller furloughs come from the sequestration cuts that were passed on a bipartisan basis in Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The furloughs will amount to one-day per two-week pay period and started Sunday.

Passengers coming into Miami said they hope things stay the way they are at MIA.

“I just want to get home,” said passenger Analise Devoe. “We’ve been on a cruise for our company for the past three days and I just want to get home. There better not be any delays.”

Governor Rick Scott has gone right to the top and asked the Obama Administration to halt the furlough for the air traffic controllers, saying the anticipated airport delays will have a devastating impact on Floridians and the economy of the Sunshine State.

“These delays will cost time and resources, hinder domestic and international commerce, and undoubtedly have long term consequences for Florida’s tourism industry, which all impact Florida families,” Scott wrote President Obama on Sunday.

The cuts were called for under the federal law requiring $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts as a penalty for Congress not reaching a deal on specific budget balancing plans.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta has warned the furloughs will result in delays up to several hours at the largest hub airports, including Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International.

Information from the FAA and others showed that flying Sunday was largely uneventful, with most flights on time. There were delays in parts of Florida, but those were caused by thunderstorms.

Scott estimated the furloughs – to last through September – will cause a $1.6 million a month hit to the state’s economy.

“Florida communities will be disproportionately impacted by these furloughs as we are the only state in the nation with four large hub airports, including Orlando International, Tampa International, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Miami International,” Scott wrote. “Moreover, these furloughs would create a ripple effect causing additional delays at other hub airports such as Jacksonville International, Southwest Florida International and Palm Beach International.”

Last month, the FAA delayed until June 15 the sequestration-tied closure of 149 federally contracted air traffic control towers, including 14 in Florida.

FAA officials have said they have no choice but to furlough all 47,000 agency employees, including nearly 15,000 controllers. Each employee will lose one day of work every other week. The FAA has said that planes will have to take off and land less frequently, so as not to overload the remaining controllers on duty.

As for flying in the next few months, the Bredice familiy had advice for travelers everywhere.

“The flight was at 7:25 a.m., we got there at 5:15 a.m.,” said Maryanne Bredice.

“Get there early. Rise and shine. You have to get there early,” said Christian Bredice.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”

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