The ATC Sequester Threat of Spring 2013

A new fiscal year is upon us, but otherwise nothing seems to have changed.

The dysfunction in Washington endures. The Public loses, while both elected ‘leaders’ and entrenched ‘players’ gain. FAA officials, union officials, NGO officials, etc. — all part of this grand impasse machinery — are seeing their personal financial position steadily grow while they race toward ever larger retirement pensions. Meanwhile, the citizens — yeah, us average schmoes — despair what will happen next as we slide further behind and become more accustomed to financial distress.

Much has been said in recent years of how the wealth gap is widening in the United States; how, especially with the financial turmoil related to the bank failures and mortgage crisis, the ‘banksters’ are getting filthy rich making lots of money because they have money, while our latest generation of adults cannot even find decent jobs!  Well, this clearly widening wealth gap is not just about banksters; it is also about players such as those in the Av-Gov complex, who tap enormous taxes off of airline passengers, and then use these billions each year in what amounts to a powerful, self-serving slush-fund.

As we enter the second week of unfunded federal government (Shutstorm 2013!), it is worthwhile to take a closer look at how the sequester was handled during the first round of threats, from December 2012 until May 2013. Here are links (in blue, below) to a chronology of records:

December 2012: NATCA Paper on Sequestration (12p); the final six pages include a list of ATC facilities all around the country that NATCA claims are vulnerable to sequester.
February 22, 2013: DoT-FAA letter to A4A-DoD-AOPA et al, re sequester, signed by LaHood and Huerta
[List] FAA towers under threat of closure (by state)
[List] FAA towers where Mids may end
February 27, 2013: NATCA sequestration update. NATCA abandoned their December threat list, replacing it with the official DoT/FAA  threat list.
March 7, 2013: Paul Clement memo to Ben Hirst (an analysis by Bancroft PLLC, sent to Delta Airlines; on FAA’s discretion in how they may deal with the sequestration threat)
March 7, 2013: Congressional letter to LaHood, re FAA failures
March 22, 2013: FAA News Release
[Link] FAA’s Closure list of 149 FCT’s(4p)
[Link] FAA’s List of 16 cost-share FCT’s (targeted for closure in October)
— FAA’s List of 24 cost-share FCT’s (to remain open)
April 11, 2013: Senators to FAA-DOT, concerns about tower closures
May 7, 2013: CRS Reports
[Link] ATC Furloughs and Congressional Response (13p)
— [Link] Sequester impacts on ATC (12p)

Throughout the sequestration threat in early 2013, neither NATCA nor FAA officials offered any details supporting cost savings. Nor did they note the substantial decline in air traffic activity coupled with increases in ATC staffing. The fact is, if they chose to, FAA and NATCA could advocate for real savings, much higher ATC productivity, and with no derogation of safety. FAA and NATCA would serve the Public well, if they worked toward a lean and effective organizational structure.

Perhaps this is not happening because NATCA does not want to see a reduction in dues collections? Likewise, perhaps FAA does not want to thin the excess of managers, specialists and contractors who stay busy looking busy, while cycling in place?