Airlines Expect FAA Furloughs To Cost Them Millions

By Andrew Compart andrew_compart@aviationweek.com
Source: AWIN First

United says it will “aggressively cancel” flights, particularly at its hubs at Newark, O’Hare, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.

Service to smaller communities will be disproportionately impacted, United adds, because the airline will be “forced to focus on canceling flights operated with smaller aircraft in order to reduce the total number of passengers impacted.”

The airline estimates that it will cancel an incremental 269 flights per day, more than half of which will be United Express regional aircraft flights.

American Airlines says it expects its daily revenue losses to total $1 million and that the furloughs will result in an additional 335 daily delays, adding significantly to the 247 delays the carrier experiences on a “typical day.”

US Airways, meanwhile, is estimating its annual revenue loss will total $249 million, and Southwest Airlines is “conservatively” estimating a cost of more than $200 million per year. Southwest worries that customers for its short-haul flights will shift to cars or other travel alternatives.

Southwest also says it will have to defer a plan it was going to implement this year to reduce the amount of surplus fuel its aircraft carry on good weather days, as well as the amount of fuel carried for taxiing. The airline expected that change to save it more than $40 million a year, but says it cannot implement the plan because of the uncertainty created by the furloughs.

It likely will take days, if not weeks, to determine the full impact the furloughs will have on airline operations. On April 22, through mid-day, the worst flight delay impact from the controller cutbacks was on New York shuttle flights and numerous airports in Florida, according to MasFlight, which analyzes flight delay patterns every day.

FlightStats, a real-time flight tracker, noted a slowdown at certain airports such as the Florida locations, but said the impact on the system as a whole as of mid-day did not seem severe.

The FAA implemented ground stops or ground delays at a handful of airports, including some it identified as related to staffing or “traffic management” issues at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport.


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