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FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta has said repeatedly that the furloughs are necessary. The agency has made other cuts and recently postponed plans to close some air-traffic-control towers at smaller airports, but the cadre of air traffic controllers make up the largest single group on the Transportation Department’s payroll.
FAA’s warnings, which came last week, were fairly dire. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the nation’s busiest, could see delays of up to three hours, while users of New York’s three major gateways were told to expect waits of about an hour, the FAA said.
The warning led airlines to tell their customers to prepare for delays. United Airlines, for example, said about one-third of its passengers could be affected by sequester-related delays, particularly at its big hub airports such as Los Angeles International.