Representatives of air traffic controllers and TSA screeners predict big delays at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from federal spending cuts, but some airline passengers wonder about that.
Victor Santore, the Southern vice-president for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, says expected staff furloughs and loss of overtime will leave controllers unable to maintain maximum flight arrivals at the Atlanta's airport.
"We won't compromise safety, but the compromise will come with fewer flights arriving at Atlanta, and as soon as arrival delays start, departure delays start. Once that happens, the delays ripple everywhere," said Santore.
A similar message came from TSA screener Pedro Ithier, speaking at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for the American Federation of Government Employees on Wednesday.
"We're not going to lower our standards. We're going to do our screening and we're going to do it right. But can you imagine 40, 50-minute wait?" Ithier said.
Furloughs of federal employees are at least a month or so away, and would amount to a day off per week without pay. That's when you could start seeing delays at airports and disruptions in other government services.
"As I am kind of a nervous flier anyway, I would sincerely hope that we don't cut back on controller jobs," said airline passenger Michelle Regan.
But other airline passengers shrugged off the predictions of trouble.
"I think that they're overstating the problem. Unless they want to do it, I don't think that we're going to have a problem," Fred Alban.
Santore doesn't dispute that the government needs to balance its budget, but added that, "It's a stalemate on both sides, and no one ever intended to cut the budget by reducing capacity at the busiest airports in the world."
The White House says Georgia stands to lose millions of dollars in military and education support, but some analysts says the biggest long-term effect could be an economic slowdown.
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