Major airports seeing delayed flights due to staffing issues

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The 34-day government shutdown, which began on December 22, has affected hundreds of thousands of federal employees - including, according to the airline unions, air traffic controllers, air marshals, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers and FBI agents who work without pay.

A lack of workers at an air-traffic control facility in the Washington area prompted the FAA to stop inbound flights Friday to LaGuardia, one of the nation's busiest transportation hubs.

LaGuardia in NY and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were the hardest hit, but delays rippled across the nation's air-travel system.

Friday's announcement by the FAA is significant because it is the first time there has been a shortage of air traffic controllers. There were also gate hold and taxi delays between 15 minutes and 29 minutes in length at the airport.

TSA staff are taking sick leave in record numbers since the partial government shutdown forced them to work without pay began on Deember 22, 2018.

This entire statement from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is terrifying.

FAA spokesman Gregory Martin told the Associated Press that it had augmented staffing, rerouted traffic and increased spacing between planes as needed.

Air traffic workers are making "routine mistakes" due to high levels of stress caused by the shutdown, Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told CNN on Wednesday night.

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Lang said she didn't mind the delay because she wants her two friends who are air traffic controllers - one in Jacksonville and the other in Minnesota - to get paid.

On Day 33 of this senseless #shutdown @ALPAPresident Capt. Joe DePete, #NATCA Pres @PaulRinaldi & @afa_cwa's @FlyingWithSara Nelson issued a joint statement that details growing safety concerns in the United States #aviation system caused by the shutdown. "This is reckless, what has been going on with the shutdown".

Bloomberg's Conor Sen argued that the flight stoppage and delays shows that "we've finally hit a pain point in the government shutdown that will bring about either legislation to end the shutdown or a crisis that impacts far more than the federal employees who have so far borne the brunt of the shutdown".

"We are closely monitoring the situation on the East Coast today", Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said in an emailed statement.

A screen grab from a traveler's smartphone airline app shows a two-hour delay for the departure of their flight from LaGuardia Airport to Detroit on January 25, 2019.

TSA has been moving agents to airports where there are shortages, and occasionally consolidating checkpoints, to prevent lines from getting too long. "We are already short-staffed".

Enough is enough. It's beyond time to #ShutDownTheWall and open the government. Government workers "are tired, worried, and distracted, but they won't risk our safety", and will instead keep some planes on the ground, she said.

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