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Tampa airport sees delays, but is it furloughs or weather?

TAMPA — A day after air traffic controllers nationwide began furloughs, some flights to and from Tampa International Airport were running late, but officials couldn't say whether every passenger was waiting for the same reason.

"Bottom line is we have a bunch of delays, and we don't know what they're due to," Tampa International spokeswoman Janet Zink said. "Could be furloughs. Could be weather."

The St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport had no delays, a spokeswoman said Monday evening. But as of late Monday afternoon, Tampa International reported 46 delayed departures and 56 delayed arrivals, about 23 percent of its 450 daily flights.

"We're seeing delays out of the Northeast, out of the Washington area airports," said John Tiliacos, vice president of operations and customer service. "There was weather in the Northeast, and I understand there is some weather up there today in the New York area with respect to winds that may very well be playing into the arrival and departure delays."

Airport officials said it might be possible that Chicago or Atlanta could experience delays that, in turn, would affect Tampa.

Delays were running 45 minutes to an hour, Tiliacos said. But a few were longer, according to the airport's website.

A United flight to Washington, D.C., and a Spirit flight to Atlantic City were each more than 3 hours late, and a Delta flight to New York was 2 1/2 hours late.

Terry DeGrow of Tarpon Springs came to the airport Monday to pick up his brother, who was flying in from Dallas via Birmingham, Ala. The flight was a half-hour behind because of thunderstorms, he said.

"I'm supposed to be flying (to Seattle) in a week," he said, "so I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

Passengers and people meeting passengers should call their airlines to check on the status of flights "for the foreseeable future," Tiliacos said.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration furloughed 47,000 employees, including 15,000 controllers, to manage forced government budget cuts.

At a news conference at the airport, Florida Gov. Rick Scott blamed President Barack Obama's administration and the FAA, which he said could have cut $2.7 billion in non-personnel costs instead.

"It's absolutely the wrong thing to do," Scott said. He noted that Florida sees 142 million airline travelers a year and is the only state with four air-travel hubs. He predicted that delays would reduce visitors' interest in coming here, hurting business and having "a significant impact on our state."

Scott also said the forced cuts would hurt the 8 percent of the state's economy that is tied to the military and urged Floridians to call the White House and demand that Obama take a different approach to the budget.

"This idea that we should furlough all these air traffic controllers, and have an impact both on our safety and on jobs, just doesn't make any sense," he said.

Staff writer Patty Ryan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tampa airport sees delays, but is it furloughs or weather? 04/22/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 10:34pm]
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