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DALLAS-- If Congress can't agree on a budget late Friday night and that triggers budget cuts, one of the tangible effects of it will be fewer planes taking off and landing in North Texas.

Controllers will still be employed, but we won't, in essence, be able to come to work and do our jobs, said Tom Rizzardo, National Association of Air Traffic Controllers (NATCA).

Those employees will likely have to take an unpaid day off every week if sequestration happens, Rizzardo added.

Fewer controllers mean less planes can take off and land at D/FW.

Normally, we have 56 controllers, Rizzardo explained. That's a pretty good number for what we staff. But we're down to 42 controllers. But if you take another 10-to-20 percent off that... it's starting to get real thin.

Right now, controllers can land 126 planes an hour at D/FW. But if furloughs begin, NATCA warns say the D/FW arrival number will plummet to 85 aircraft an hour -- making delays at D/FW inevitable.

Love Field could experience up to 35 percent fewer arrivals as well, according to the NATCA.

Neither American nor Southwest Airlines would tell News 8 if they have a contingency plan to cancel or consolidate flights. But their lobbying group, Airlines for America, said, air travel is too important to the economy and jobs to be treated like a political football.

Still, travel blogger Aaron Kokoruz said sequestration shouldn't scare passengers away.

I think lines are going to be longer, but I think if you pack a little bit of patience and just arrive at the airport a little earlier, things are going to be fine, he said, because the fact remains, airlines have to turn a profit, people have to travel. Travel is going to continue.

But the pace of it is up to Congress.

Air traffic controllers will get a 30-day notice of furlough, Rizzardo said. So it will take a while before they actually start to see some of those delays.

That countdown could start on Friday.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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