State's main air carrier warns of delays in light of federal furlough action

In a news release issued on Saturday, Alaska Airlines is advising travelers to check the status of their flights before leaving for airports.

This comes hours before the Federal Aviation Administration plans to begin furloughing air traffic controllers as part of the automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

That action takes effect today (Sunday).

The Seattle-based airline says the FAA is anticipating "extensive ground delays" of 50 minutes to two hours at some airports.

The news release from the airline also says the FAA is predicting the furloughs could cause a reduction in flight arrivals of 30 to 40 percent at some airports.

As has been reported, the federal agency says it must furlough all 47 thousand of its employees, including 15 thousand air traffic controllers, as part of 637 million dollars in spending cuts by September 30, the end of the government's fiscal year.
 
The FAA's total budget is roughly 16 billion dollars.
 
The cuts, as have been well-documented, were set in motion when Congress and President Obama could not agree on a long-term deficit reduction plan.
 
In light of the furlough action, Alaska Airlines officials says they "specifically recommend" that people allow the additional check-in time when traveling to or from larger cities such as Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Newark, San Diego and San Francisco.

On a local perspective, Alaska Airlines is the primary air carrier operating out of Fairbanks International Airport, which is also served by major carriers Delta Airlines and Frontier Airlines, which is scheduled to resume its seasonal service on May 17.

On Friday, the group Airlines for America, the trade organization of major airlines, filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to block the furloughs.

It was joined in the action by the Regional Airline Association and the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents unionized pilots.