Some US airports were experiencing significant flight delays Monday, in the wake of mandatory federal budget cuts that have forced temporary staff cuts at the Federal Aviation Administration.
Delays of more than an hour were reported by the FAA at major east coast airports because of the staffing shortages, as well as other causes, including high winds in some areas, the FAA reported on its website.
The delays began after the FAA on Sunday began instituting furloughs for workers, including air traffic control staff, following steep "sequester" federal spending cuts that went into effect last month.
The FAA acknowledged that as a result of the furloughs "travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day, depending on staffing and weather-related issues."
Delays averaged more than three hours late Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport.
The aviation authority said it was grappling with staffing shortages in New York, Fort Worth, Texas, Jacksonville, Florida and Los Angeles.
"Controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports, including New York's La Guardia Airport."
"The FAA is working with the airlines throughout the day to try and minimize delays for travelers."
On Friday, three airline groups said they would petition a federal appeals court in Washington to block sequester cuts by the FAA and the Department of Transportation "to protect the rights of the traveling public."
"The Regional Airline Association, Airlines for America and the Air Line Pilots Association warned of "significant chaos" that could result from the furloughs of airport and other personnel.
"Our entire aviation system will struggle to maintain normality due to furloughs of these essential workers," said ALPA President Lee Moak.
"The economic viability of our country depends on this mode of transportation. Everyone will be affected," Moak said.