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Cars and Transportation

US airports hit by delays amid government shutdown

January 25, 2019

Due to air traffic control staffing shortages, the FAA has warned of delays at New York's LaGuardia and other East Coast airports. The disruption to air traffic has come amid an ongoing federal government shutdown.

A jet airplane takes off
Image: Colourbox/M. Gann

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported delays in air travel on Friday due to staffing issues at two air traffic control facilities.

The FAA delays are impacting flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania — all three airports are in the top 25 busiest airports in North America.

Staff shortages at two East Coast air traffic control facilities prompted the federal agency to institute a program that spaces out the time between arriving flights, but that it would lead to nearly 90-minute delays.

"We've mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft as needed," the FAA said.

"The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system," the agency added.

The FAA also briefly ordered a ground stop for LaGuardia on Friday morning, which meant that airplanes that were not already enroute to the airport were kept at their airports of origin, flight-tracking site Flightradar24 said on Twitter, adding that the order was later lifted.

Read more: Opinion: Trump's shutdown takes anti-government sentiment to new extremes

No end in sight to shutdown

Air traffic controllers, airport screening staff and other Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff are among the federal workers who are not getting paid during an ongoing partial government shutdown in the US, which has lasted 35 days.

The White House said that US President Donald Trump was being kept up-to-date on the airport delays and that they were "monitoring" the situation.

Two competing plans from Democrats and Republicans to end the shutdown failed to pass through the Senate on Thursday.

Negotiations over the federal budget have stalled over the issue of building a wall on the US's southern border with Mexico, a project that Trump had long said that Mexico would finance.

On Thursday, Trump said he would support "a reasonable agreement" to reopen government, but that he'd want a "prorated down payment" on the wall.

House and Senate Democrat leaders said they would not support an agreement that included funding for the wall.

US government workers

rs/msh (Reuters, AP)

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