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Alaska Air Group CEO Calls FAA Furloughs 'Unfathomable'

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Alaska Airlines

The head of Alaska Airlines has choice words for the air traffic controller furloughs that started Sunday. Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden Thursday called the travel impact of automatic federal budget cuts "unfathomable." Sister carriers Alaska and Horizon Air say delays and cancellations have been most noticeable on flights to Los Angeles this week.

Tilden says he's hopeful Congress will step in with a quick fix.

"I don't know, there's encouraging things in the last day or two," he says. "I think there is cause to be optimistic that we are going to get this problem behind us. But the sooner the better from our perspective. This is something we desperately need fixed."

Members of Congress are reportedly swapping ideas for how to give the Federal Aviation Administration more budget flexibility. However, Congress watchers doubt any a deal could pass before the members go on a weeklong recess next week.

At this hour, the website FlightStats.com shows minimal delays at the Seattle, Portland, Spokane and Boise airports.

On the Web:

North American flight delays map - FlightStats 
Statement on FAA furloughs - Alaska Airlines

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.