U.S. Senator Mark Begich has joined a bipartisan group of senators aiming to end the air travel delays, as the FAA has furloughed air traffic controllers by introducing the Dependable Air Service Act.
The legislation would give the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation the flexibility to transfer funds between accounts in order to halt air traffic controller furloughs and avert mounting passenger delays and flight cancellations at America’s airports.
Begich said that in our vast state, Alaskans rely on air travel to get around more than anywhere else. Even though we are only two days into the furloughs, we are already seeing significant delays at hub airports, which in turn affect Alaskans traveling to the Lower 48 as well as economically important cargo links to move goods in and out of the state.
Begich told us that this bill provides a critical fix that will allow air traffic controllers to get back to their posts, while requiring the FAA to live with the budget Congress has given them.
The FAA already currently has the authority to move 2 percent of its operational budget without congressional approval, and 5 percent with congressional approval.
Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has indicated that this flexibility is not sufficient to address the problems, so this legislation provides any additional flexibility he may need by having access to the DOT budget.
DOT’s total budget for 2013 is $72 billion, of which $19 billion is discretionary funding.