Regional Airlines Already Feeling Effects Of Sequestration

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Sequestration appears to be hitting regional airline hubs already.  Passenger traffic dropped off sharply last month, something airport officials attribute to the effects of federal budget cuts.

Traffic for the month decreased 14.7 percent, causing year-to-date traffic so far to be 11.8 percent behind the same period in 2012, according to a report given at the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority's monthly meeting last week. That puts passenger totals 5.6 percent below what was projected for the airport's fiscal year 2013 budget.

Spokeswoman Barbie Peak said defense contractors and other travelers aren't flying as much as they wait to see how big of an impact federal cuts might have on business.

"We are feeling some effects of sequestration," she said. "It hurts our parking and concession business but we are continuing to operate the airport normally and look to search for new areas for future growth," Peak added.

Last month, the Regional Airline Association and others met with FAA and Congressional representatives to outline the potential impact of federal government sequestration on the regional airlines, which operate one-half of the nation’s scheduled flights.

“We recognize and appreciate the thoughtful effort FAA is making to mitigate consequences on the traveling and shipping public,” said RAA President Roger Cohen. "There will be many conversations toward our goal of keeping U.S. communities, nearly 500 of which rely exclusively on regional airlines, connected to the global transportation network.”

Currently, the RAA is still studying the effects of the federal budget cuts and could not comment on if any individual airlines would be forced to cancel regional service if passenger traffic continues to fall.

-Our news partners at The Huntsville Times/ contributed to this report.

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