FAA shutdown could cost US $1bn (610m) in lost taxes

Aug 03 2011

The US could lose up to $1bn (£610m) in airline ticket taxes, officials say, amid an impasse in Congress over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The agency has been forced into partial shutdown after its operating authority expired on 23 July.

The government has already lost more than $200m because airlines are unable to collect taxes on ticket sales. Some 4,000 FAA staff are on unpaid leave.

Lawmakers are not due back from their annual leave until September.

Close to 4,000 FAA employees, including engineering technicians and computer specialists, have been forced to take a temporary leave of absence because of the partial shutdown.

The FAA has also told about 70,000 construction workers on airport projects to stop work.

It is reported to have asked dozens of airport inspectors to work without pay and charge their government travel expenses to their personal credit cards.

"These men and women are now being asked to spend their own money to do their jobs... This is one of the most outrageous things that I can comprehend," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a news conference on Wednesday.

Union rights

Congressional lawmakers have been deadlocked on whether to extend the FAA's funding because of a row over ending subsidies to 13 rural airports.

Republicans also want to reverse new rules which give airline employees greater trade union rights, a move Democrats have struck back against.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2011 BBC

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