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US court sets schedule for FAA furlough case; denied emergency stay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. court charged with deciding whether to order the Federal Aviation Administration to abandon its plan to furlough air traffic controllers set out a preliminary schedule for the case on Monday, after denying an request for an emergency stay.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit set a May 22 deadline for the two sides to file documents in the case, which pits the Airlines for America (A4A), the main U.S. airline industry group, against the FAA.

A4A filed suit on Friday asking the court to "vacate" FAA's furlough plan and to order the agency to find a different way to meet budget cuts mandated by Congress.

The court, within hours, denied a request for an emergency stay to block the furlough plan.

But "the underlying lawsuit is alive and well," A4A spokeswoman Victoria Day said in an email on Monday.

The FAA on Sunday started furloughing 47,000 workers, including many air traffic controllers, for up to 11 days over the rest of the fiscal year to implement mandatory budget cuts.

A4A, joined by the Air Line Pilots Association and the Regional Airline Association, warned in the lawsuit that the furloughs would cause massive delays and other problems for air travelers and shippers in coming months.

The airline industry will continue to push for a legislative solution to stop the furloughs while waiting for the court to make its decision, Day said.

The court has not yet set dates for a briefing or for oral arguments, she said.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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