Regional air traffic is moving smoothly with minimal delays at the three Bay Area international airports today, despite the Federal Aviation Administration’s imposed furlough on the nation’s air traffic controllers, which began Sunday.

Forced to trim $637 million from its budget for the Fiscal Year 2013, the FAA has ordered each of its 47,000 air traffic controllers to furlough one day per pay period, or one day every two weeks, according to FAA reports. In general, that’s 10 percent of controllers at any facility will be on furlough every day, according to the FAA.

At Mineta San Jose International Airport, spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said that she is only able to monitor delays during the airport’s curfew system but that there have been six late operating flights related to air traffic control delays, specifically out of Los Angeles International Airport.

In Oakland, spokesman Scott Yamasaki said he has not noticed a significant number of delays due to the furloughs. In fact, there have been three Southwest flights from LAX that arrived 10 minutes early, he said.

“In looking at the arrival boards this morning, everything is arriving on time and its business as usual here,” Yamasaki said.

General arrival and departure delays at San Francisco International Airport are 15 minutes or less, according to the FAA’s website.

On Tuesday, according to the FAA, more than 1,025 delays in the system were attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough. There were more than 975 delays due to inclement weather and other factors. On Monday, there were 1,200 delays caused by the furlough and 1,400 delays caused by weather and other factors, according to the FAA.

In a statement Tuesday, the FAA said, “Travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather related issues.”

Delays could be worst where there are staffing challenges, specifically at the Miami and Los Angeles En Route Centers, the Tampa TRACON and Chicago and O’Hare and Tampa Towers, according to the FAA statement.

Due to these constraints, controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including Chicago O’Hare, Las Vegas and Tampa.
An FAA spokesman said today that delays are occurring because the FAA is slowing the system down, when necessary, to maintain the highest levels of safety overall.

Passengers are being advised to check their flight status and visit to see real time airport delay information.

Aimee Lewis Strain, Bay City News

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