FAA Shutdown Remains, Despite Congressional Recess

AP Images

The FAA is still in shutdown mode, despite Congress leaving town for a planned recess.

As a result, some 4,000 agency employees and contractors are furloughed with no end in sight, and 40 plane inspectors who make regular checks covering runways, navigation aids and other systems at airports around the country will continue to work without pay (and incur work expenses personally) to ensure that the industry doesn't crumple under the shutdown.

Plus, some 70,000 to 90,000 workers have been laid off as airport improvement projects across the country have come to a halt.

So far, the federal government has lost more than $250 million in revenue. The full annual budget of the rural air services program is roughly $200 million.

Tom Parsons, CEO of BestFares.com, told Bloomberg News that "it's like we've had a 7.5 percent fare hike for the airlines, and it's not coming out of your pocket or mine but Uncle Sam's. It's like Santa Claus came in July."

Now, Bloomberg News reports, that the airlines could face a $1.3 billion "windfall" by pocketing the 7.5% tax on domestic ticket sales through September 7th, when Congress resumes.

When Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com talked to Bloomberg News he agreed, saying: "This is manna from heaven, a real windfall for the airlines. I don't expect them to drop the fare increases. Why would they? Total ticket prices are the same and it doesn't seem to be hurting bookings."

At the beginning of the shutdown, some airlines gave customers a break of sorts, with variations of discounted fare "sales," while others raised fares slightly to compensate for the difference.

On its website, the IRS has pointed travelers to the airlines to get tax refunds. Yet, American, United/Continental and Southwest are all directing customers to seek refunds with the IRS. JetBlue is asking customers to email the airline for a refund, the Associated Press reported earlier this week.

An AOL Travel poll conducted on July 24th shows that some 9,361 AOL Travel readers believed the airlines were being too greedy.

FAA Workers Furloughed in Partial Shutdown

Read Full Story

From Our Partners