Blames Increased Flight Delays On Contentious Relationship
New York Senator Charles Schumer says continued hostilities
between air traffic controllers and the FAA are partly to blame for
a record number of flight delays at New York's three major
airports... and that he intends to introduce legislation that will
force the two sides to make nice.
Newsday reports the Senator thinks the delays are the result of
too few controllers, combined with increased traffic. And if you
thought the problem was bad before... just wait until this
"For passengers to be waiting on the ground ... all because of
an internal dispute is just not fair," Schumer said this weekend,
adding he plans to introduce a bill to return the FAA and the
National Air Traffic Controllers Association back to the bargaining
As ANN reported, negotiations
between the two sides fell apart last year, after the agency
imposed a new contract on the union. To call the resulting
situation "contentious" would be a profound understatement.
Schumer's office claims flight delays have increased by 35
percent at LaGuardia over last year, and 20 percent at Newark.
Those figures pale in comparison to the situation at JFK,
however... the scene of a whopping 140 percent increase in
The FAA admits delays have gotten worse... but adds those delays
were "not attributed to staffing levels at FAA's air traffic
control facilities." The agency notes many delays have been weather
related, particularly during the past winter season.
Predictably, NATCA attributes the rise in delays to the loss of
experienced controllers at FAA facilities. Union vice-president
Rich Barbarello said roughly 100 controllers nationwide have quit
since September, due to pay cuts under the imposed contract
"It's no longer a career ... They've destroyed the profession,"
Barbarello said of the FAA, adding NATCA supports Schumer's
This isn't the first time the New York senator has gotten
involved in the tangle between the FAA and NATCA. As ANN reported earlier this
year, Schumer called for a tripling of the FAA's
planned FY2008 recruitment budget, to combat anticipated controller