Wed, Dec 20, 2006
Says It Needs More Money In '07
Responding to a proposal by
incoming Democrat lawmakers that would cap its funding for fiscal
year 2007 at FY2006 levels, the Federal Aviation Administration
says it may freeze hiring of air traffic controllers and
technicians -- despite claims by controllers that many facilities
are already severely understaffed.
The Gannett News Service reports the response came in a December
14 memo written by Eugene Juba, senior vice president of finance
for the FAA's Air Traffic Organization.
"In anticipation of the impact that could have on our finances,
we must take further steps to reduce spending while still
maintaining effective services to our customers," wrote Juba.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown stressed no decisions have been
made, although she acknowledged the hiring freeze is an option.
Last year's funding levels have been extended only through February
15, she added.
If enacted, the freeze would go into effect March 31. The FAA
already implemented a hiring freeze on all other positions.
News of the memo comes as many have questioned the FAA's assertions
that ATC staffing is generally at acceptable levels.
Not helping the situation is the fact approximately 70 percent of
current controllers are eligible to retire through 2015... and many
are opting for retirement earlier than the FAA anticipated.
"They need to be ramping up hiring, not shutting it off halfway
through a fiscal year," said Doug Church, spokesman for the
National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
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