Thu, Aug 16, 2012
Report: Budget Cuts Could Close Air Traffic Control Towers, Reduce Passenger And Cargo Capacity
A study released Monday by the Aerospace Industries Association and Econsult Corporation estimates that budget cuts to FAA operations as a result of sequestration could cost up to 132,000 aviation jobs, drain $80 billion a year from the nation’s gross domestic product and strip almost two billion pounds of freight capacity out of an air cargo system that is already buckling at the seams.
According to the study, annual economic losses could amount to $80 billion annually by 2035, an annual decrease of 37 to 73 million in passenger enplanements and annual reductions of 1 to 2 billion pounds of transported air freight. The projected loss in output to the U.S. economy is estimated to reach $9.2 to $18.4 billion, with $2.7 to $5.4 billion lost in wages and salaries.
“If sequestration is not stopped, it will be by far the most devastating budget cut to the FAA in its 54 years,” said former Secretary of Transportation and Congressman Norman Mineta. “The FAA is a critical safety organization that regulates our national air transportation system. Putting it at risk is folly beyond comparison.” Mineta is currently vice chair of public policies at Hill + Knowlton Strategies.
The study was released at a luncheon meeting of aviation leaders in Washington, who warned against the effects of sequestration. According to a letter from Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), ranking minority member of the House Appropriations Committee, to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in October 2011, sequestration could result in the closure of 246 airport control towers, and the loss of 1,500 air traffic controllers, 9,000 security screeners and 1,600 customs officers.
“With proper funding the FAA can be both safe and efficient,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey (pictured). “Under sequestration, the air traffic control system will be hobbled for decades, leaving travelers, shippers and our economy in the lurch.”
Sequestration – which will be automatically triggered Janary 2nd, 2013 days unless Congress acts this year to repeal or delay it – would also have a devastating impact on the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System, delaying system implementation by a decade or more. The full implementation of NextGen, now scheduled for 2025, has been forecast to provide more than $281 billion in net benefits, save 27 million hours in flight delays and reduce 216 metric tons of emissions.
“This study reveals the draconian effect of sequestration on the FAA,” said Stephen P. Mullin, vice president and principal of Econsult Corporation and author of the study. “Sequestration would force the FAA to slash operations, bringing gridlock to the skies today, or defund modernization and infrastructure work. The closer we study sequestration the more destructive it turns out to be.”
The report is one of several released by AIA that demonstrate the impact of sequestration on the nation’s economy and the aerospace and defense industry. Most recently, a study by George Mason University’s Dr. Stephen Fuller concluded that 2.14 million jobs across the economy are at risk.
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