The Budget Squeeze

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ATC Cut Say Controllers...

Last week, we told you a $100 million provision for relief to GA, previously written into the FAA's reauthorization bill, was gone, but that Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta would like to triple airspace capacity -- more airports, radar and runways (maybe we should just stop closing airports). This week, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President John Carr says the budget introduced by the White House includes a 16 percent funding cut for air traffic control facilities and equipment. "The White House is saying two entirely different and contradictory things," Carr said. "You cannot modernize the system and add capacity by announcing there will be vastly less money to pay for it." Carr said the budget doesn't seem to bear out any threefold expansion in capacity over the next 20 years, but noted that the administration is pouring millions of dollars into improving the air traffic system in Iraq. He called the domestic plan an "empty election year promise that sounds good but doesn't add up to anything more than fuzzy math."