Published: Sat, January 26, 2019
Money | By Bruce West

Air transport workers warn shutdown could cause USA aviation collapse

Air transport workers warn shutdown could cause USA aviation collapse

The FAA said travel delays Friday morning were caused by staffing shortages at two facilities handling air traffic control in Washington, D.C. and Jacksonville, Florida.

At LaGuardia, the FAA said it was bringing in extra staff, increasing spacing between aircraft and rerouting traffic, but warned of delays for arriving flights of almost 90 minutes. Some arriving flights are also being delayed; the FAA reports an average of 41 minute delays for LaGuardia-bound flights out of Newark International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. "We've mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed", said Gregory Martion, an FAA spokesman.

The White House was concerned about the economic impact of a significant disruption within the national airspace system, including the commerce it supports, the source said.

Air traffic controllers have worked more than a month without pay - and union leaders fear a mass exodus will put travelers at risk and cripple the airline industry.

It's too early to say whether widespread flight delays at major East Coast airports will break the shutdown stalemate. He says he "loves and respects" federal workers and appreciates the work they do.

"Absolutely, because now what we are talking about is not just local and airports, we get into the regional", Soucie said, explaining that the lack of staff would eventually make it much more hard to track flights between airports.

Has the record-long government shutdown over President Donald Trump's border wall demand finally reached a "tipping point"?

"They [the traffic controllers] are making them because they're stressed out, because they don't know when this is going to end and they're distracted", Trish Gilbert, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said Thursday on PBS NewsHour.

Officials further noted that staffing in air traffic control facilities is at a 30-year low and most controllers regularly work overtime.

Democratic lawmakers were quick to seize upon the flight disarray as yet another urgent reason that the government shutdown must end immediately.

Earlier Thursday the Senate failed to end the shutdown - the longest in USA history - voting down two competing proposals that would have ended the impasse over funding for the wall. The move, which requires agreements in the Senate and Congress, could mean the 800,000 government workers will begin receiving paycheques. "These TSA officers and air traffic controllers are absolute heroes". "We were already short-handed in all areas".

"There are locations where FAA engineers have quit, TSA agents have quit, air traffic controllers have quit".

The record-setting federal government shutdown is beginning to take its toll on the nation's airports - and Newark's is no exception.

She said she was watching the news on TV at the airport, and "that's how we found out".

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