WASHINGTON (SBG) — The Federal Aviation Administration is reporting delays at some East Coast airports due to 'staffing' issues at air traffic control centers in Washington, D.C. and Jacksonville, Florida. LaGuardia Airport in New York, Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey are currently affected.
"There is a Traffic Management Program in effect for traffic arriving La Guardia Airport, New York, NY (LGA)," per the FAA website. "This is causing some arriving flights to be delayed an average of 41 minutes."
As a result, flights that have not yet departed are being held before takeoff. Flights already in the air are not affected.
"We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities," says an FAA spokesperson "We’ve mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed. The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system. The public can monitor air traffic at fly.faa.gov and they should check with airline carriers for more information."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi cited the situation as an example of the damaging consequences of the partial government shutdown. She called on President Trump to "stop endangering the safety, security and well-being of our nation."
The White House says it is monitoring the situation.
“The President has been briefed and we are monitoring the ongoing delays at some airports," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement "We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed the airport delays as another symptom of "federal madness" caused by President Donald Trump. The Governor alls penned a letter to the president shortly before the FAA announced the delays asking him to end the partial government shutdown.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said in a statement Friday that though the labor union does not "condone or endorse" any actions by federal employees that could affect safety in the skies, it shouldn't be surprising that the shutdown has had a toll on air traffic controllers' performance.
"Air traffic controllers take their responsibility to protect the safety of the flying public at all costs very seriously. Nothing else matters except safety," said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi in the press release. "With that said, in the past few weeks, we have warned about what could happen as a result of the prolonged shutdown. Many controllers have reached the breaking point of exhaustion, stress, and worry caused by this shutdown. Each hour that goes by that the shutdown continues makes the situation worse."
This story will be updated.