Feds Warn of Delays at SFO Due to Sequester Cuts

Catching an SFO flight in the near future? Don't forget to make sure the federal government has not put a crimp in your plans first.

Budget cuts, stemming from the federal sequester that went into effect Sunday, brought delays to East Coast airports as well as to Los Angeles International Airport over the weekend. Around the country, about 400 delays were attributed to the cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.

The budget cuts have not affected SFO yet, said airport spokesman Doug Yakel. "So far, we have not had delays," he said.

But federal officials named San Francisco as one of the airports that could be most affected in the future. That could be because of its size (it is one of the 10 largest airports in the country) and because its runway space is relatively limited, Yakel said.

The Associated Press gave the background:

Government budget cuts that kicked in last month are forcing the FAA and other agencies to cut their spending. FAA officials have said they have no choice but to furlough all 47,000 agency employees, including nearly 15,000 controllers. Each employee will lose one day of work every other week. The FAA has said that planes will have to take off and land less frequently, so as not to overload the remaining controllers on duty.

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The cuts give SFO less staff in reserve, Yakel said. So, if a lot of people call in sick or bad weather requires special procedures, the strain might become apparent.


Users of smaller airports can expect even bigger disruptions if the FAA follows through on its plan to cut funding for 149 control towers nationwide, including 11 in California.

Those cuts were scheduled to begin April 7, but have been delayed until June 15. The agency said 50 airport authorities "and other stakeholders" have indicated they might fund the towers themselves.

Here's the list of California towers scheduled to lose funding:

  • Fullerton Municipal (FUL)
  • Castle, Atwater (MER)
  • Oxnard (OXR)
  • Riverside Municipal, Riverside (RAL)
  • Ramona, Ramona (RNM)
  • Brown Field Municipal, San Diego (SDM)
  • Sacramento Executive (SAC)
  • Salinas Municipal (SNS)
  • Southern California Logistics, Victorville (VCV)
  • Whiteman, Los Angeles (WHP)
  • General Wm. J. Fox Airfield, Lancaster (WJF)

More from the AP:

Some groups are warning that the slowdown could hurt the economy.

"Our nation's economy and businesses will pay a very steep price that significantly outstrips savings produced by furloughs," the Global Business Travel Association warned the FAA in a letter Friday. "If these disruptions unfold as predicted, business travelers will stay home, severely impacting not only the travel industry but the economy overall."