Biden wants more money for the FAA after air travel disruptions

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An American Airlines Airbus A319 airplane takes off past the air traffic control tower at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, January 11, 2023
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

The Biden administration is seeking additional funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, funds that aim to boost hiring of air traffic controllers and facilitate other improvements to manage increasingly congested airspace.

The White House on Thursday proposed $16.5 billion for the agency, up from the $15.2 billion the FAA received in fiscal 2023. The request would increase funding for the National Airspace System to $3.5 billion, up $500 million, to improve the systems that oversee the country’s airspace “to safely accommodate the growth in traditional commercial aviation traffic alongside new entrants from the commercial space, unmanned aircraft, and advanced air mobility industries.”

The request, part of a broad budget proposal for the 2024 fiscal year, comes less than two months after a pilot-alert system outage prompted the FAA to ground flights nationwide for the first time since 9/11.

Read more on Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget plan:

Airlines and the Transportation Department have sparred over causes of flight disruptions, with some company executives blaming a shortfall of air traffic controllers. Airlines last year scaled back their growth plans to put more slack in their schedules as they grappled with a shortage of pilots and aircraft.

President Joe Biden‘s request highlighted the increasing number of rocket launches by space companies as one of the strains on U.S. airspace. Last year, the FAA managed airspace for a record 92 space missions – a total that includes rocket launches and spacecraft reentries, which it expects to top in 2023.

Many of those missions launched from Florida, a state which has seen more and more commercial air traffic as well.

Biden is also seeking a $3 million increase for consumer protection work at the Transportation Department, which is pushing airlines to formalize policies like ensuring families can sit together without paying a fee as well as prompt refunds when things go wrong.

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