Airlines to Obama administration: Don't ground flights again in October

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A4A said that 600,000 passengers were delayed on flights because of the sequester. From April 21-27, the FAA purposely held back flights at major airports that were otherwise ready to go to manage traffic with a staff that was reduced by about 10 percent.

The FAA said at the time that it did not have a choice other than implementing a "traffic management" plan.

Republicans in Congress argued that the FAA was purposely inconveniencing passengers to win political points in the fight over the sequester for the Obama administration.

Congress eventually passed a bill to allow the FAA to move $253 million from its fund for airport improvements to end the furloughs for air traffic controllers.

A4A's Elwell said on Thursday the high-profile standoff over flight delays raised awareness about the airline industry by capturing "100 percent of the nation's attention for six days."

"That validates to us how important we are on a day-to-day basis," Elwell said. 

A4A said the sequester flight delays cost airlines about $50 million in lost revenue. 

The group predicted on Thursday that there would be a "modest increase" in airline passenger traffic this summer now that the flight tower staffing is back at normal levels.

The expected increase, about one percent, would not eclipse the existing peak for summer travel in 2007 though, A4A said.

In that year, A4A said 218 million people flew from June through August. The association is predicting 209 million people will take flights during the same months this year.

The airline group's full report on passenger traffic can be read here.