Congress did not reauthorize the FAA this week, and the federal agency has furloughed 4,000 employees nationwide as a result.
Federal officials, however, contend passenger safety is not at risk.
“The FAA employees who will be furloughed perform critical work for our nation’s aviation system and our economy,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. “These are real people with families who do not deserve to be put out of work during these tough economic times.”
Since Congress didn’t reauthorize the FAA, officials say a number of construction projects are at risk, including one at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, which didn’t receive $8 million in federal funds, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported.
“I’m very disappointed that Congress adjourned today without passing a clean extension of the FAA bill,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “Because of their inaction, states and airports won’t be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”
However, in a bit of good news, until the FAA is reauthorized, traveling is actually cheaper, GPB reported.
“If you purchased a ticket, say, a month ago, and you traveled on Saturday or over the weekend or anytime during the lapse, you as a passenger are actually owed a refund on taxes paid because the service is performed during that lapse, during that period,” GPB quoted Steve Lott of the Air Transport Association as saying.