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How The Fiscal Cliff Is Poised to Disrupt Travel

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There’s been a lot of news about the projected impacts of the fiscal cliff, a combination of federal tax increases and budget cuts set to occur on January 1, 2013, unless the government comes up with a solution. And the travel industry is not immune.

According to a report from Representative Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be forced to eliminate 7,240 security officers—in total, there are currently more than 58,00 employees of the TSA.

According to a White House Office of Management and Budget report issued in September, the TSA could stand to lose more than $640 million should the fiscal cliff go into effect.

TSA Chief John Pistole has already announced that the government agency would make cuts in other areas to keep as many screeners as possible to operate scanners. “We have made a number of plans in the event that sequestration does go into effect,” said Pistole in a public statement. “The bottom line is for the entire Department of Homeland Security, and T.S.A. obviously included, is to make sure that the frontline operations are not affected by that.”

However, the cuts could force cuts on an unknown number of plainclothes air marshals, a federal law enforcement agency that operates under the supervision of the TSA.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could lose 2,200 air traffic controllers, technicians and support staff. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would see a cut of $478 million and more than 930 special agent jobs could be eliminated. Customs and Border Protection would see a reduction of $955 million, including at least $823 million in border protection enforcement,

The Border Patrol might lose 3,400 agents—or 16 percent of its force—and another 3,400 customs officer jobs might be eliminated.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow has pointed out that spending cuts and higher taxes on the middle class will have “a profound impact on travel spending.” He says that the U.S. travel industry currently supports 14.4 million American jobs and generates $1.9 trillion in economic output.

“If unresolved, millions of American families may be left without the means to take a vacation and businesses are certain to roll back their travel spending,” he said.

By Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com

References: Democratic Appropriations, AIA Aerospace, CND, Gov Exec

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