1997  |  1998  |  1999  |  2000  |  2001  |  2002  |  2003  |  2004  |  2005  |  2006  |  2007  |  2008  |  2009  |  2010  |  2011  |  2012  |  2013  |  2014  |  2015

NATCA Urges FAA to Fully Fund New Hires, Despite Budget Cuts - (1/11/2006)

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration is considering shelving plans to hire 1,249 new air traffic controllers this year because of cuts mandated by recent budget legislation, despite the urgent need for new controllers as three out of every four become eligible for retirement over the next decade. But while the agency cites budgetary pressures from labor costs, it still decided to raise management salaries and hire additional supervisors to oversee a shrinking workforce.

“The FAA is raising pay for senior bureaucrats and pouring millions of dollars into dubious management schemes while asking for controller pay cuts and multi-year freezes and refusing to adequately staff America’s air traffic control system,” said John Carr, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “With fewer and fewer controllers guiding more and more planes, the FAA is crippling the operation and that problem must be remedied immediately.”

As a result of the passage last month of the Fiscal Year 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations conference report, which includes an across-the-board cut totaling $8.5 billion, the FAA is now forced to cut one percent from its appropriated funds. One Senator, Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., is on record opposing any cut to the $24.9 million appropriated for new controller hires. Byrd, in a Dec. 19 statement, said, "A one percent across-the-board cut will completely nullify the agency's ability to hire back air traffic controllers and cause the controller workforce to continue to shrink to unsafe levels."

That the FAA would entertain postponing staffing plans – despite the agency’s recent approval of generous pay raises for management – is of great concern to air traffic controllers who are depending on new hires to help confront a wave of upcoming retirements and record levels of air traffic. Even a cursory glance at the FAA FY2006 Budget shows that the $24.9 million for new hires could be protected if the agency considered nominal cuts to, for example, the nearly $437 million allocated to so-called “Organizational Excellence” – which has done little more than increase the already burgeoning bureaucracy – or the nearly $800 million allocated to non-operational “headquarters support” contracts.

"Air traffic is increasing to record levels and the training curve for new controllers is still years,” said Carr. “That the FAA would even consider not hiring these new controllers with the staffing crisis looming calls into question their commitment to air safety.”

Show All News Headlines