The Holiday ATC Crisis
And in what has become a holiday tradition of sorts, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association brass have more dire predictions about the system's inability to cope with what could be shaping up as a record season for air travel. President John Carr said in a news release that controllers are dropping faster than needles from a tree (OK, we're paraphrasing) and unless the FAA starts hiring, congestion and delays will prevail at many airports. "It's time for the FAA to stop talking about plans and take action," Carr said. He did note that Congress recently passed an appropriations bill containing $9.5 million to hire more controllers but said much more needs to be done. Carr said that between October of 2003 and September of 2004 the system lost 500 controllers but only 13 were hired. He said major airports like Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Newark are facing shortages along with dozens of others across the country and the situation is building to where up to 50 percent of the workforce will be lost if something isn't done. "There is no getting around the fact that the FAA needs to hire and train more controllers," he said.