New York’s La Guardia airport faced flight delays Friday as air traffic control struggled with staff shortages linked to the partial federal government shutdown.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s website said that arriving flights were being delayed an average of nearly 1.5 hours, and that departures were also affected.
An FAA spokesperson told AFP that the delays were caused by a “slight increase in sick leave.”
“We’ve mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed,” the spokesperson added. “The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system.”
The New York region’s third-largest airport, LaGuardia primarily serves domestic flights.
A source close to a major airline said traffic had not ground to a halt, contrary to some media reports.
“The President has been briefed and we are monitoring the ongoing delays at some airports. We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 25, 2019
Why This Matters
Around 137 outbound flights and 131 inbound flights were facing delays — nearly a quarter of each type of flight — but only a small handful were cancelled, according to flight tracker FlightAware.
Most federal workers in American airports are now on their 35th day of working without pay due to a feud between Democratic lawmakers and President Donald Trump, who is demanding funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Earlier this week, leaders of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Air Line Pilots Association and Association of Flight Attendants warned that if the deadlock does not end soon, flights could be cut back around the country.
Currently FAA is reporting delays up to 30 minutes at MCO as air traffic management is underway.
FAA Updates: https://t.co/9f5Rbnr4SZ
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) January 25, 2019
Control tower staffing is at a 30-year low due to no-shows and the national flight grid was only holding up due to overtime work by controllers, some of whom are working 10-hour days and six-day workweeks.
Air traffic controllers, transportation security officers, safety inspectors, and air marshals were not furloughed and have been working without pay.
Inside terminals in major airports, passenger inspection times are lengthening due to an increasing number of workers for the Transportation Safety Administration not showing up.
Many of the workers are facing financial difficulties and some are unable to pay for transport to go to work or for childcare, and thus choose to call in sick instead.
"If you don't have enough air traffic controllers, management must literally by law stop the flights," says @MarySchiavo, Fmr. Inspector General U.S. Dept. of Transportation, adding that the delays at major East Coast airports are for "safety" https://t.co/PksW6P1zf5 pic.twitter.com/R6eiaWoYtq
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) January 25, 2019
More on the Subject
A decrease in spending by American citizens could be the catalyst for a new recession, and with the financial uncertainty of the government shutdown persisting, experts fear a financial crisis could be on the horizon.
A newly-published study in the Journal of Applied Business and Economics details that a reduction in spending could negatively affect the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 70 percent of which is made up of consumer consumption.