Flights delayed at Newark, LaGuardia, Philly airports from 'sick leave' staffing shortage

Carlos Gonzalez right hugs his daughter as she waits in line at a security checkpoint at Miami International Airport in Miami. The strain of a 34-day partial government shutdown is weighing on the nation’s air-travel system. (AP
Air Traffic Controllers Warn of 'Unprecedented' Safety Risk As Government Shutdown Continues

26 January, 2019

On the FAA's website's "Flight Delay Information" map, LGA airport has a button that reads, "Due to OTHER / STAFFING, there is a Traffic Management Program in effect for traffic arriving LaGuardia Airport, New York, NY (LGA)".

FAA spokesperson Gregory Martin said issues occurred at two air-traffic facilities: one in Washington, D.C., that controls high-altitude air traffic over seven states, and another in Jacksonville, Fla.

The agency has dispatched extra screeners to airports in Atlanta, LaGuardia Airport in NY, and Newark, New Jersey.

Newark, meanwhile, continues experiencing gate holds and traffic delays averaging between 46 minutes and one hour, and the length is increasing the FAA said late Friday morning.

Air traffic controllers have been working without pay since the partial federal shutdown.

Weeks into the government shutdown, employees at airports nationwide have felt the effects and amid concerns that a decrease in the workforce could sacrifice safety and hinder travel, flights into a NY airport were delayed.

"This is exactly what AFA and other aviation unions have been warning would happen", the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said in a statement released Friday, before Trump announced he would sign a bill to re-open the government through February 15.

The record-setting federal government shutdown is beginning to take its toll on the nation's airports - and Newark's is no exception.

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Several major US airports, including LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport, are experiencing significant delays Friday morning due to air traffic controller staffing issues.

A ground stop has been ordered at LaGuardia Airport due to staffing issues, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday.

By early afternoon, more than 2,400 US flights had been delayed, according to tracking service FlightAware, although the situation seemed to be improving from earlier in the day.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that the shutdown "has already pushed hundreds of thousands of Americans to the breaking point". "Some of this equipment may not be able to get serviced within the time frame it needs to which could lead to failures", said Fischer.

Aviation unions are right to call attention to possibly increased risks to aviation safety (air traffic control) and security (checkpoint screening) due to controllers and screeners going for long periods without pay. They would normally would be paid on Friday, but won't be because of the shutdown.

Nick Daniels describes morale inside the radar center as non existent because of extra workload caused by the absence of FAA employees who have been furloughed despite having essential jobs.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in a statement that airport safety workers "have been doing unbelievably heroic work even as they are betrayed by the government that employs them".

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