Delays at LaGuardia, Newark airports due staffing shortage amid government shutdown

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Friday, January 25, 2019
Delays at LaGuardia, Newark airports due staffing shortage amid government shutdown
Jim Dolan reports on airline delays due to the government shutdown.

NEW YORK -- Hours before a deal to reopen the government was reached, passengers endured delays at LaGuardia, Newark and other airports due to air traffic controller staffing shortages caused by what the FAA described as "sick leave."

FAA says a small uptick in air traffic controllers calling out sick on Friday led to the problems.

RELATED: President Trump announces deal to reopen government for 3 weeks

The FAA tells ABC News in a statement:

"We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two air traffic control facilities affecting New York and Florida. As with severe storms, we will adjust operations to a safe rate to match available controller resources. We've mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft as needed. The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system. The public can monitor air traffic at and they should check with airline carriers for more information."

LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were both experiencing delays in takeoffs.

Some passengers took to social media to report delays.

Staffing shortages were reported at centers in Washington and Jacksonville, an FAA spokesperson tells ABC News.

The most critical staffing shortage happened in Washington, which affects NY airspace in terms of incoming and outgoing flights.

Of the 13 controllers scheduled to work in the DC area center, six called out on Friday, sources told ABC News.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the situation, and hours later announced a deal to reopen the government for at least 3 weeks was reached.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says delays at East Coast airports amid a partial federal government shutdown were another symptom of the "federal madness" caused by Republican President Donald Trump.

"No one could make up the situation that we're in. And it gets worse every day. Today they issue a ground stop - they halt flights leaving LaGuardia Airport. Why do they do that? Because due to the federal shutdown, there are too few staff at the FAA in Washington to adequately control air traffic and they have to reduce flights coming from airports on the East Coast like LaGuardia due to the staffing shortage," Cuomo said.

His comments came at an unrelated event in Manhattan Friday morning.


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