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FAA forced furloughs on 15,000 air traffic controllers nationwide

The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to cut 15,000 air traffic controllers began Sunday.

This means planes now have to depart and land less frequently.

Air traffic controllers at Columbia Regional Airport have not been furloughed, but they are still likely to feel the effects.

The Chicago airport is among one of the airports where delays have already happened as a result of the furloughs.

Because the Chicago airport is an American Airlines hub that feeds Columbia Regional Airport, this could mean delays or cancellations in Columbia.

“It would have a chain reaction effect and it would ultimately affect us since our flights fly into Chicago,” Columbia Airport Advisory Board member Greg Cecil told ABC 17 News.

On Friday, some of the bigger pilot unions and airline trade groups sued the FAA and said they predicted the cuts would result in delays for one out of every three passengers nationwide.

“We’re encouraging passengers on American Airlines to check with their carrier prior to departures, especially if they are departing or returning to Columbia from Chicago,” said Steven Sapp of Columbia Public Works.

Sapp said he and all airport employees are doing everything they can to keep passengers updated about the status of their flights on a day to day basis via their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

But Sapp said the issue is out of his hands.

“We really don’t, at Columbia Regional Airport, have control over this national picture,” Sapp explained.

Both Sapp and Cecil say this will require patience as it continues to unfold.

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