As the government shutdown stretches into its 35th day, the air-traffic controllers are getting sick of working without pay. So sick, in fact, that they are calling in sick leaving three of the nation’s busiest airports with massive delays and causing the FAA to halt flights into New York’s LaGuardia Airport because of a shortage of air-traffic control staff.
Currently, there are air-traffic delays at LaGuardia, as well as Washington’s Reagan National, Philadelphia International Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey due to staffing issues at a Federal Aviation Administration regional air traffic control center, according to the FAA status website.
“We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two air traffic control facilities affecting New York and Florida,” the FAA said in a statement. So far the FAA has mitigated impact by adding staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft, which they claim has resulted in “minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system.”
To track flights, here’s the flight delay map from the Air Traffic Control System Command Center on the FAA website. That said, it’s hard to confirm the exact status of flights, so check with your airline and prepare to wait out delays on the tarmac and on the taxiway.
The delays come less than two days after the president of a major air-traffic controllers’ union warned that the ongoing shutdown poses a major safety risk. For better or worse, CNBC reports that the president has been briefed on the situation and is “in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA.”
The delays and aggravation for voters will escalate the pressure on President Donald Trump and lawmakers to end the government shutdown. That said, while delays are annoying, when it comes to air safety, better safe and stuck on a tarmac than sorry.
— The FAA (@FAANews) January 25, 2019