The Department of Transportation's $600 million share of the $85 billion in sequestration-forced spending cuts will result in significant travel delays, canceled flights and furloughed air safety employees, LaHood warned the nation's aviation community in a Feb. 22 memo.
As a result of forced temporary furloughs of what LaHood called the "vast majority" of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) 47,000 employees, flight delays of up to 90 minutes could occur at major airports in cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago.
Possibly jeopardizing air traveler safety, sequestration-driven furloughs could require the closure of air traffic control towers at over 100 airports with fewer than 150,000 general civilian or 10,000 commercial take offs and landings per year.
In addition, LaHood warned airline and airport operators to be prepared for delays in required FAA participation in aircraft preventative maintenance procedures and pilot safety certifications.
"We are aware that these service reductions will adversely affect commercial, corporate and general aviation operations," wrote LaHood. "We also expect that as the airlines estimate the potential impacts of these furloughs, they will change their schedules and cancel flights."
Unless Congress acts to avert or delay the sequestration, LaHood advised the furloughs and airport facility shutdowns will begin in April.