NEW YORK —
“Essentially what happened from an airline’s perspective is that people who were going to travel didn’t travel,” he said. But canceled flights likely led to lost revenue for airlines. Even if they didn’t have to incur some of costs of fueling up planes and getting them off the ground, crews that were already scheduled to work still had to paid.
“One week isn’t going to kill them, but had it gone on much longer, it would have been a significant hit on their revenues and profits,” Kasper said.
It’s also a toll on travelers. At New York’s LaGuardia airport on Friday, traveler Roger Bentley said “getting on a flight and being delayed really puts people on the spot. It puts people on the edge and makes people edgy and that’s not something I want.”
The challenges this week probably cost airlines less than disruptions from a typical winter storm, said John F. Thomas, an aviation consultant with L.E.K. Consulting.
“I think the fact that it got resolved this week has minimized the cost as it was more the inconvenience factor,” Thomas said.
The budget cuts at the FAA were required under a law enacted two years ago as the government was approaching its debt limit. Democrats were in favor of raising the debt limit without strings attached so as not to provoke an economic crisis, but Republicans insisted on substantial cuts in exchange. The compromise was to require that every government “program, project and activity” — with some exceptions, like Medicare — be cut equally.
The FAA had reduced the work schedules of nearly all of its 47,000 employees by one day every two weeks, including 15,000 air traffic controllers, as well as thousands of air traffic supervisors, managers and technicians who keep airport towers and radar facility equipment working. That amounted to a 10 percent cut in hours and pay.