American ShipperInfrastructure

U.S. airport operations nearing breaking point?

Numerous flights in and out of New York’s LaGuardia Friday morning were canceled or rerouted due to a shortage of federal air traffic control and safety personnel.

   A significant number of flights in and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport Friday morning were either canceled or rerouted to other airports due to a shortage of federal government air traffic control and safety personnel, according to various news reports.
   Other U.S. airports reportedly were experiencing similar delays and cancellations of flights.
   “We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a tweet Friday morning. “We are mitigating the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed.”
   On Wednesday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Air Line Pilots Association and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA released a statement highlighting the “growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines and the traveling public due to the government shutdown.”
   Essential FAA personnel have been forced to work without pay for 35 days since the government shutdown began. 
   “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, including 10-hour days and six-day workweeks at many of our nation’s busiest facilities,” the groups said. “Due to the shutdown, the FAA has frozen hiring and shuttered its training academy, so there is no plan in effect to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.”
   The FAA has emphasized that the safety and security of U.S. aviation remains front and center during the government shutdown. “The traveling public can be assured that our nation’s airspace system is safe,” the agency said in a tweet on Thursday.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.