Monday is first day of air traffic controller furloughs

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Those who fly frequently are encouraged to stay in touch with airlines, as the FAA on Monday, April 22nd began implementing furloughs on air traffic controllers as an answer to automatic budget cuts.

The FAA has predicted there could eventually be flight delays of up to 90 minutes during peak periods. The airline industry predicts much longer.

The FAA says it must furlough all 47,000 of its employees, including air traffic controllers, to meet Congressionally-mandated spending cuts of $637 million.

Employees will take a furlough day every other week. Planes may have to take off and land less frequently, in order to not over-tax the limited air traffic controller staff on duty.

Monday, April 22nd was the second day of the furlough, and most passengers at Mitchell International Airport said they noticed nothing.

"Very easy getting through the lines. Once I got to Salt Lake City Airport, I just went through real easy. No problems at all," Travis Houser said.

The airlines contend the cuts could cause major delays. Tyler Nelson's trip included a security delay. He said he is concerned delays from furloughs could jeopardize catching connecting flights.

"We were almost half an hour late. I mean, getting to a place where we don`t have the time to get to our exact plane in the amount of time that we need to and just not getting to the place we need to in time probably would be a hassle, I can imagine," Nelson said.

Randy Henderson's 45-minute layover turned into a three hour layover.

"Man, I don't think it would make anybody happy to wait three hours. I don't think so," Henderson said.