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RDU flights delayed as FAA budget cuts take effect

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Flights at Raleigh-Durham International Airport were seeing some delays on Monday, as the impact of furloughs for air traffic controllers began to take effect nationally.

Exactly which flights were delayed because of furloughs was hard to define, but flights from New York's LaGuardia Airport were often an hour or more behind at RDU.

Monday was the first weekday after thousands of air traffic controllers began taking a forced, unpaid day off because of federal budget cuts.

"There were 32 planes on the runway waiting to take off when we left LaGuardia. We were 32nd in line to take off," said RDU passenger Randy Ely.

"It's causing a ripple effect," Jo Ely said. "I think we were lucky because we were only stalled for an hour. I think it's only going to get worse.

"We left a son in LaGuardia who was trying to get to Charlotte, and I think he's going to have a longer wait."

[LINK] Follow flight delays at RDU here

Passengers from other airports said they were delayed about 20 minutes because their planes were delayed coming in from other, larger airports.

An RDU spokesman said the delays from LaGuardia were a result of high winds, and the delays out of JFK were due to construction.

Still, the FAA has cut controller staffing by 10 percent, reducing how many planes each airport can handle. That means the controllers will be furloughed one day every other week, and will slow down flights.

The FAA does not expect RDU to see serious delays on a regular basis.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative Ben Murray, out of Charlotte, said, "We are infuriated and disappointed. We can't believe that the national air waves are being held hostage because Congress can't come to a deal."

Murray said Charlotte is already seeing delays. Murray said Charlotte normally has 86 flights take off per hour, and that has dropped to 55 flights per hour. Murray said that is a direct result of furloughs.

An RDU spokesman said Charlotte may be seeing more of an impact because it is a major hub. RDU has approximately 60 air traffic controllers.

Charlotte Huffman

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