Airlines Lawsuit

Airline and pilot organizations have filed suit in a bid to stop the Federal Aviation Administration from going through with furloughs set to kick in this weekend, echoing the claims of congressional Republicans that the agency could have found the savings elsewhere.

The suit comes after FAA Administrator Michael Huerta testified Thursday that the public should expect flight delays as furloughs take effect Sunday for air traffic controllers. He said FAA officials could find no other way to cut $637 million from the agency’s budget as required by the sequester.

But two airline trade associations and the Air Line Pilots Association said Friday they have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court in Washington to block the furloughs — though the court is unlikely to schedule a hearing until next week, after the furloughs have begun.

“The impact of these cuts on our industry cannot be overstated,” said Faye Black, vice president of the Regional Airline Association, which joined the suit.

The groups joined congressional Republicans in arguing that the FAA was acting inappropriately. While the FAA announced Thursday it was moving ahead with furloughs, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it had found ways to avoid them.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Thursday that the FAA “has made zero effort” to avoid the furloughs.

“The FAA’s decision is a dangerous political stunt that could jeopardize the safety and security of air travelers,” he said in a statement.