Air traffic controller sickouts related to the government shutdown at three major Northeast airport hubs are greatly affecting arriving flights, according to news reports, resulting in the rerouting of flights.
The sickouts are causing significant flight delays at the following airports: LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport.
The delays are being attributed to a sickout at a FAA regional air traffic control center.
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According to the FAA, flights departing from Philadelphia and Newark on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, were averaging delays of between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes. Flight departures from LaGuardia were reported to average delays between 15 and 30 minutes, according to the FAA.
The FAA issued the following statement via its Twitter feed:
“We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities. We are mitigating the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed. The public can monitor air traffic at fly.faa.gov and they should check with airlines for more information.”
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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association issued a joint statement with the Air Line Pilots Association International and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO on January 23, 2018.
The joint statement detailed serious safety concerns due to the government shutdown, which at the time of publication was entering its fifth week and is the longest recorded shutdown in U.S. history.
Here is a snippet of text from the joint statement released on Wednesday, January 23:
“The situation is changing at a rapid pace. Major airports are already seeing security checkpoint closures, with many more potentially to follow. Safety inspectors and federal cyber security staff are not back on the job at pre-shutdown levels, and those not on furlough are working without pay.
“Last Saturday [January 19], TSA management announced that a growing number of officers cannot come to work due to the financial toll of the shutdown. In addition, we are not confident that a system-wide analyses of safety reporting data, which is used to identify and implement corrective actions in order to reduce risks and prevent accidents is 100 percent operational due to reduced FAA resources.”
The joint statement can be read in its entirety as a downloadable PDF via the NATCA website.
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