NATCA Ties Controller Shortage To Flight Delays

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) placed two half-page ads in USA Today, yesterday, drawing a connection between "falling levels of experienced controllers and the rising number of arrival delays," according to NATCA Director of Communications Doug Church. The actual graph associates a 105-percent increase in arrival delays with a 12-percent decrease in veteran controller staffing. NATCA says the ads also show how the FAA's action to enforce "non-negotiated pay rules" has led to an increase in attrition and retirements in spite of the FAA's public predictions to the contrary. Specific to that point, the ad includes a "Myth" versus "Reality" section that pits comments from then FAA Administrator Marion Blakey -- "There is not going to be any mass run for the exits" -- against excerpts from the Department of Transportation Inspector General Feb. 9, 2007, report -- "According to FAA officials, the large jump in actual retirements was a result of the breakdown of contract talks."