Sunday, 5 Feb 2023

Flights to New York's LaGuardia airport briefly halted as shutdown hits air-traffic staffing

DALLAS (BLOOMBERG, WASHINGTON POST) – US authorities briefly halted flights into New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Friday (Jan 25) because of a shortage of air-traffic control staff, escalating the pressure on President Donald Trump and lawmakers to end the government shutdown.

A lack of workers at an air-traffic control facility in the Washington area prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to order a ground stop shortly before 10am local time (11pm Singapore time)at LaGuardia, one of the nation’s busiest transportation hubs, reported BBC.

The stoppage was lifted about an hour later, but the FAA warned of further delays.

“We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities,” a spokesman for the FAA said in an emailed statement.

“We’ve mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed. The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system.”

Travellers were notified of air traffic issues at fly.faa.gov and were advised to check with their airline for more information.

The FAA’s Airport Status Information website cited shortages at two facilities, including one near Washington, which manages air traffic.

The temporary restrictions affect arriving and departing flights at the airport. Arriving flights were delayed an average of 41 minutes and departures were experiencing delays between 15 and 29 minutes, the FAA said.

Flights at other East Coast airports such as Washington’s Reagan National, Newark Liberty International and Philadelphia International were also delayed on Friday.

The flight disruptions underscored the rising impact of the government shutdown as the closing dragged into the 35th day. JetBlue Airways Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes warned the risk to the aviation system was reaching a “tipping point”.

Some 420,000 federal workers, including Transportation Security Administration screeners and air traffic controllers, have been deemed essential and told to go to work even though they aren’t receiving regular pay.

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