Budget Hike Proposed For FAA

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Money To Hire Controllers Included...

It looks like the FAA will be getting a small budget increase next year, including funds to speed up the hiring of new air traffic controllers. On July 15, the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Treasury and Independent Agencies approved a $14 billion package for the FAA, up $169 million (a bit more than 1 percent, whehoo) over last year's figure. About $3.5 billion is earmarked for runway and other capacity improvements and, of course, there's money for security. Tucked in the fine print is $7 million to hire and train new controllers. The National Association of Air Traffic Controllers (NATCA) had asked for $14 million to kick-start the process of replacing the hundreds of controllers who are eligible to retire in coming years. NATCA President John Carr told Business Travel News the $7 million isn't enough. He said the $14 million is a "small price to pay" to ensure the system is adequately staffed. "If this problem is not addressed immediately, we will face a tragic price in the not-too-distant future," he said. The funding bill still has a long way to go before passage. The committee report is the first step through the House and the Senate hasn't even drafted its version of the bill yet. The current funding bill expires at the end of September.