Senate passes bill to end FAA furloughs

Bill is headed to the House Friday

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MIAMI - A fix for frustrated fliers might take off.

Late Thursday night, the Senate voted to let the FAA end furloughs for thousands of air traffic controllers that were hit by those automatic budget cuts.

"That should prevent the onerous delays that have been occurring and were only going to get worse," says Senator Susan Collins,  R-Maine.

The cuts have caused a daily shortage of up to 1,500 controllers at the nation's airports, and threatened to close 149 control towers.

With fewer eyes on the sky, planes have been spaced farther apart, slowing the system down and frustrating fliers.

On Wednesday alone, 863 flight delays were linked to the cuts.

Friday's FAA bill heads to the House.

If it doesn't pass, officials say things will get much worse.

"We did not take into account thunderstorms or other kinds of weather activities," said Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. "These delays could get extended beyond the 60 to 90 minutes."

This could be good news for Broward taxpayers too. Commissioners there were ready to shell out $43,000 a month to keep the tower open at North Perry Airport.

Opa-locka was initially on the closure list, but then spared after local leaders were able to convince the FAA it was a badly needed relief airport for Miami International Airport.

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