Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was for the most part spared the heavy delays that affected other airports around the country.
Atlanta was not among the airports where the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it was experiencing “staffing challenges” under the budget cuts known as sequestration. To address those challenges in New York, Fort Worth, Jacksonville and Los Angeles, the FAA said controllers would space planes farther apart to manage traffic with less staff. That in turn leads to delays at airports like New York’s La Guardia – where air traffic was complicated by high winds on Monday.
The FAA said last week it expected to see average flight delays in Atlanta of about 11 minutes, with a maximum delay of three-and-a-half hours.
But according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union, on the first day of furloughs Sunday, controllers stayed after their shifts at key facilities such as in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Otherwise, “The delays could have been worse,” according to the union in a written statement.
Although some flights leaving Atlanta were delayed due to staffing issues at their destinations such as Charlotte, air traffic delays in Atlanta were generally kept to 15 minutes or less for much of the day, according to the FAA’s website.
Some flights were more delayed for other reasons, such as those departing Atlanta for the New York area, which were delayed an average of more than an hour and a half due to reasons such as runway or taxiway maintenance or bad weather.