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Flights Delayed At LaGuardia, Newark Airports Due To Air Traffic Control Staffing Problem; Shutdown Eyed As Cause

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Flights at LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports were delayed Friday due to air traffic control staffing problems elsewhere, officials said.

"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," the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. "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."

CBS News' Kris van Cleave reports the air traffic control staffing problems originated at Washington and Jacksonville's Air Route Traffic Control Centers. The two centers handle flights en route between destinations.

There are also delays at Philadelphia and Tampa, van Cleave reported.


The federal government shutdown is being eyed as the cause of the staffing problems.

"The president has been briefed and we are monitoring the ongoing delays at some airports," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. "We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA."

Chopper 2 Over Newark Liberty International Airport

Jane Karlson saw her flight marked delayed on the boards at La Guardia Airport. Getting home to Chicago was complicated by air traffic controller sick outs in Florida and Washington, DC. The FAA listed "staffing" as the reason it had to slow down some departures, including Karlson's flight.

"A couple of hours... as long as it's the same day i feel OK. It's definitely an inconvenience... it'd be great to get everyone back to work and paid," Karlson told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

Hours later, her prayers were possibly answered as President Trump announced a deal was in place to end the 35-day shutdown and put TSA and air traffic controllers back to work.

Earlier on Friday, Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo weighed in the airport slowdown.

"I wish I could say I am shocked," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. "But this is the cost of the shutdown. We heard for days now with the situation with air traffic control and certainly with security. We are starting to get more and more afraid."

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"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," said Cuomo. "And now it's not just Washington in the beltway, now literally, they're slowing down air traffic in the United States of America."


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