FAA claims flight operations will be normal by Sunday night

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A long line of passengers wait to enter the security checkpoint before boarding their aircraft at Reagan National Airport in Washington.
(REUTERS/Larry Downing)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Saturday it had suspended all employee furloughs and that it expects the U.S. air travel system to return to normal by Sunday evening Eastern Time.

The suspension follows passage on Friday of a bill allowing the agency to shift money within its budget to halt furloughs of air-traffic controllers that started April 21.

The furloughs, prompted by automatic budget cuts, caused thousands of flight delays and hundreds of cancellations throughout the week. The FAA said in a statement on Saturday that it expects staffing to return to normal levels over the next 24 hours.

Airports around the country were reporting that flights were arriving and departing on time at 1 p.m. EDT, with the exception of San Francisco, where arrivals were delayed 44 minutes on average because of construction, the FAA said.

Earlier on Saturday, President Barack Obama chided Republicans in his weekly radio address for approving a plan to ease air-traffic delays while leaving untouched budget cuts that affect children and the elderly.

Congressman Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a Republican from Pennsylvania, said the FAA could have complied with the automatic budget cuts, known as sequester, in a way that avoided inconveniencing travelers.
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