WASHINGTON – The US Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday it has suspended all employee furloughs and that air traffic facilities will start returning to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours.
The furloughs were linked to steep “sequester” federal spending cuts that took effect last month, with some 13,000 air traffic controllers ordered to take two unpaid days off per month through the remainder of the fiscal year.
Faced with the sudden ire of thousands of Americans caught up in flight delays, the US Congress on Friday gave overwhelming approval to a bill that puts those furloughed controllers back on the job.
The legislation provides the FAA with some $253 million through October “to prevent reduced operations and staffing” as a result of the arbitrary cuts, which came about when lawmakers failed to reach a broad budget deal this year.
Some airports had reported significant delays in the wake of the mandatory cuts.
Earlier this week, the aviation authority said it was grappling with staffing shortages in New York, Fort Worth, Texas, Jacksonville, Florida and Los Angeles.