Congress Votes To End Controller Furloughs

Bipartisan action preserves 149 contract towers.

Controller Furloughs
Controller Furloughs

Air travel in the United States was back to normal this week after Congress passed a measure on Friday giving the FAA new flexibility for dealing with forced spending cuts.

The agreement, reached just hours before legislators were to leave on a week-long break, ends controller furloughs that briefly caused delays at large commercial airports. It also allows the FAA to continue operations at 149 contract control towers that were due for closure on June 15.

More than 3,000 flights had been delayed because of the furloughs that began last week, the FAA said. The bipartisan agreement reached on Friday by the House and Senate allows the FAA to transfer up to $253 million from other programs to fully staff controller positions through September and keep all contract towers open.

The FAA had estimated that furloughs would save an estimated $200 million and closure of 149 federal contract air traffic control towers would save as much as $50 million more.