Flights delayed at major USA airports due to traffic controller shortage

A TSA agent center directs passengers through a security checkpoint at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The strain of a 34-day partial government shutdown is weighing on the nation’s air-travel system

Air Traffic Controllers Warn of 'Unprecedented' Safety Risk As Government Shutdown Continues

In Boston, several flights to and from LaGuardia were delayed Friday morning.

"Staffing in our air traffic control facilities is already at a 30-year low and controllers are only able to maintain the system's efficiency and capacity by working overtime".

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association's (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi issued a statement on Friday saying the union does not endorse coordinated absences.

At LaGuardia, travelers learned of delayed flights from announcements over PA systems. There were also gate hold and taxi delays between 15 minutes and 29 minutes in length at the airport.

During the shutdown, an estimated 800,000 government employees are working without pay, with around 51,000 of them being TSA agents and over 22,000 of them employed by Air Traffic Control, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"This is anything but a sick out - it is only about our safety and the air traffic controllers' absolute commitment to it", Nelson added.

A bill that would have re-opened the government and provided money for President Donald Trump's border wall failed in the US Senate Thursday.

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

Weeks into the government shutdown, employees at airports nationwide have felt the effects and amid concerns that a decrease in the workforce could sacrifice safety and hinder travel, flights into a NY airport were delayed.

The delays come amid the ongoing partial United States government shutdown, which began on 22 December and has left 800,000 federal employees without pay cheques.

According to a poll conducted by, 62 percent of flyers said they were concerned about their safety during the shutdown, while 47 percent responded that they believe airlines should be required to pay for private security during the pause in government funding. Days later, the government shut down and Scott couldn't report to work. "We are in regular contact with officials at the Dept. of Transportation and the FAA".

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that the shutdown was "pushing our airspace to the breaking point". "This is reckless, what has been going on with the shutdown". Airport employees across the country have failed to show up to work the past month of the partial government shutdown.

Marisa Rizzuti was one of the fliers affected by the delays. The airports with the longest average wait times were Atlanta with 42 minutes and Baltimore at 37 minutes.

"They did not give a reason at all", Rizzuti said.

Even before the shutdown, the FAA had identified the busy Northeast corridor as a priority for improving its air traffic control infrastructure, targeting the region for planned improvements in communications procedures and efficient runway operations.

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