Air traffic controller furloughs could cause lengthy delays

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ATLANTA - Monday is the first day that some air traffic controllers will be off the job due to budget cuts.

Federal Aviation Administration employees are facing furlough days because of the sequester, and some are warning of steep delays at airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“I travel a lot and I think that’s the game being played, it’s as simple as that. And we are stuck in the middle,” traveler Philip Duterme said after his flight to Houston was canceled.

Delta sent an alert warning employees of potential delays over the weekend.

“The FAA has told airlines that, on average, the furloughs could delay twice as many flights as during the most heavily storm-disrupted days last year,” the Delta statement said.

Atlanta-area air traffic controller Victor Santore said controllers are being forced off the job one day every two weeks. Fewer controllers, he said, means slowing traffic down.

“I think you should bring a book to the airport until sequestration ends,” Santore said.

Frequent flier Bernice Bates said the cuts are frustrating and that all you can do is be prepared and have a back-up plan.

“Let’s hope it’s short-lived,” Bates said.