By Michael Bartiromo
Published January 25, 2019
The Federal Aviation Administration halted some incoming flights into New York City's LaGuardia Airport on Friday morning due to air traffic control staffing issues, and delays are also being reported at airports including Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty International, among others.
"We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities," an FAA shared in a statement posted to Twitter, and shared with Fox News. "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.
"The public can monitor air traffic at fly.faa.gov and they should check with airline carriers for more information."
A statement obtained by CBS New York suggests those two facilities as being in Florida and New York.
"As with severe storms, we will adjust operations to a safe rate to match available controller resources,” reads an FAA statement obtained by the outlet.
In addition to LaGuardia, which confirmed "major delays," flights are also being delayed at Philadelphia International, Newark Liberty International, and Reagan National in Washington, D.C., Bloomberg reported.
Some passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport were also asked to deboard a flight by the airline, which had cited staffing shortages, according to a traveler on Twitter.
A ground stop at LaGuardia, which has since been lifted, was issued Friday morning just before 10 a.m., according to NBC New York.
Delta, which counts LaGuardia as one of its major hubs, confirmed to Fox News that over 200 flights were experiencing delays across affected airports.
"As of Friday morning, Delta is experiencing about 200 flight delays at New York’s LaGuardia Airport as well as other airports in the Northeast region due to the FAA’s Ground Delay Program. Delta is working to reaccommodate customers to their destinations and encourages customers traveling on Friday to check delta.com or the Fly Delta App for their current flight status."
United Airlines, too, released a statement confirming that the airline is "working closely with FAA and airport officials to try to minimize the impact on our operations and, most importantly, on our customers," the carrier said in an emailed statement to Fox News.
"At this point, we don’t anticipate significant schedule disruptions, but it is another good illustration of the escalating impact of the government shutdown and the need for the federal government to promptly re-open.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Friday morning that President Trump has been made aware of the issues.
“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," Sanders stated.
In response to Friday's delays, the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents just under 50,000 employees, urged the government — and Mitch McConnell, specifically — to end the ongoing shutdown.
"This is exactly what AFA and other aviation unions have been warning would happen. The aviation system depends on the safety professionals who make it run. They have been doing unbelievably heroic work even as they are betrayed by the government that employs them. They are fatigued, worried, and distracted — but they won't risk our safety. So the planes will stay on the ground. This is anything but a sick out — it is only about our safety and the air traffic controllers' absolute commitment to it.
"Do we have your attention now, Leader McConnell? All lawmakers? Open the government and then get back to the business of democracy to discuss whatever issue you so choose. This shutdown must end immediately. Our country's entire economy is on the line."
The FAA's news comes just two days after unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants expressed their "growing concern" for safety amid the ongoing partial government shutdown.
“This is already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States and there is no end in sight,” the unions — which included the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), along with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA — wrote in a joint statement issued Wednesday. “In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break.
“It is unprecedented,” they added.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.