Hundreds of flights grounded or delayed amid US government shutdown | US News
Hundreds of flights were grounded or delayed on the US east coast as air traffic controllers called in sick during a government shutdown.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) briefly issued a ground stop for arriving flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Friday before lifting it about an hour later.
Staff shortages also delayed flights at Newark Liberty International in New Jersey and Philadelphia International Airport.
Atlanta International Airport had the worst delays across the US of 45 minutes or more.
Orlando International Airport and Miami International Airport in Florida experienced delays of between 16 and 45 minutes.
Delta said about 200 of its flights were delayed at LaGuardia and other northeast airports.
The FAA said it was bringing in extra staff, increasing spacing between aircraft and rerouting traffic, but warned of delays for arriving flights of nearly 90 minutes at LaGuardia.
About a third of incoming flights to the airport were delayed as of late Friday morning, according to the FlightAware tracking service.
The disruption is a new flashpoint in the political standoff between the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and President Donald Trump.
The partial government shutdown, which stands at 35 days, is the longest in the country’s history.
It has been caused by a dispute about funding for Mr Trump’s plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Democrats in the House of Representatives are demanding a reopening of the government before any negotiations with Mr Trump and his Republican allies in Congress on border security.
The airport disruptions come the day after the US senate rejected two shutdown-ending bills as hundreds of thousands of workers missed a second paycheck on Friday.
Many employees have been granted leaves of absence as they face an indefinite wait for their next wage packet.
Other airport workers have been required to work without pay.
Some federal agencies have reported much higher absence rates among workers who do not know when they will be paid.
At least 14,000 Internal Rescue Service employees have not shown up for work amid the government shutdown, the Washington Post reports citing White House aides.
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, wrote on Twitter that the shutdown “has already pushed hundreds of thousands of Americans to the breaking point”.
“Now it’s pushing our airspace to the breaking point too.”
She called on Mr Trump to “stop endangering the safety, security and well-being of our nation”.
The White House said President Trump had been briefed on the delays and was monitoring the situation at the airports.
Unions representing federal workers said staff shortages were the result of severe stress affecting employees who are not being paid during the shutdown.
Three major US airlines – American Airlines Group Inc, Southwest Airlines Co and JetBlue Airways Corp – said on Thursday that the impact of the shutdown on their business had so far been limited but was nearing a tipping point.
The financial fortunes of airlines are closely tied to the health of the economy.
Airlines with hubs in Washington have said they are losing government business as a result of the shutdown.