July 26, 2011
By Matt Augustine
Jacksonville International Airport is feeling the burn from the FAA furlough of nearly 4000 workers.
JIA has about $1.5 million in airport grant authorities that can’t be issued because of the furlough. It’s not a matter of the FAA lacking the money, but rather the personnel.
“We’re into the thousands now. That number will simply grow as these projects run out of funding and can’t get any new funding. We don’t even have the people to handle their grant requests,” says FAA administrator Randy Babbitt.
That money would have been used to fund improvement and modernization projects for JIA, like a safety system that would detect if water was leaking near electrical equipment. Projects like this and other restoration work aren’t done by the airport either, says Babbitt.
“This [money] would have gone to local contractors – construction workers and so forth – and that’s going to stop.”
Babbitt worries that the number of FAA employees furloughed will only increase if a deal isn’t worked out in Congress soon. He says he understands that there are other debates on the table right now, some dealing with the FAA and others not, but that the FAA shouldn’t have to pay because of that.
“In the interim, 4000 employees of the FAA shouldn’t be the ones bearing all the brunt of the load and the construction trade folks around the country. These are jobs that are needed right now and it’s just very unfortunate that we’ve come to this.”