Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Automatic Spending Cuts Will Close More than 100 Airports
Press Release

RELEASE: Automatic Spending Cuts Will Close More than 100 Airports

Read the column.

View the interactive map.

Washington, D.C. — Today, according to a new analysis released by the Center for American Progress, as many as 106 U.S. airports could lose air traffic control service—and effectively be shut down—under automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect January 2, 2013.  An interactive map, also released today, illustrates which U.S. airports face closure under the looming spending cuts, as well as the number of controllers and passengers who would feel the impact of the forced cuts.

The column’s author, Scott Lilly, a CAP Senior Fellow and former director of the House Appropriations Committee, used the Federal Aviation Administration as an example to illustrate in vivid detail the effects of automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration.” Unless Washington lawmakers find an alternative approach to cutting the deficit, many federal agencies will in January face $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts over 10 years.

“The FAA is only one small example of the kind of mindless economic chaos that these across-the-board cuts are likely to create,” said Scott Lilly. “National parks will be closed. Key regulatory functions will be curtailed. Law enforcement will be crippled. Border security will be sacrificed. And our capacity to deal with problems around the world like Syria, North Korea, or the new government in Egypt will be compromised.”

The Federal Aviation Administration will have to slash its budget in 2013 by about $1.35 billion, according to Lilly’s calculations. And under the terms of the 2011 law dictating the cuts, FAA officials will be unable to shield air traffic control (or any other FAA-funded service) from cuts. To minimize disruption at major airports, therefore, FAA officials will likely be forced to cut air traffic service at airports where they would have the least impact on the traveling public—the smaller airports.

The crisis facing the Federal Aviation Administration is illustrative of problems every federal agency will face in the coming months, unless Congress finds a smarter way to ease deficits—one that includes a combination of responsible budget cuts and tax increases.

Lilly added, “It’s not too late for Congress to avoid the economic calamity of sequestration. But to do so, lawmakers must join together on a long-term solution that includes a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases, solutions that have been proposed by President Obama and multiple bipartisan commissions.”

Read the column: Oops, I Lost the Airport: Automatic Federal Budget Cuts Will Wreak Havoc in the Skies by Scott Lilly

View the interactive map: U.S. Airports That Face Closure Under Looming Automatic Spending Cuts by Scott Lilly

To speak with a CAP expert on this topic, please contact Katie Peters at [email protected].