Updated: Jan 20, 2020
There has been many flight delays at major airports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Orlando, Atlanta, etc. due to the lack of staff at air traffic control centers.
On average, there has been a delay of an hour, or maybe a little more, according to the FAA. Staffing issues at air traffic control centers around Washington and Jacksonville, Florida caused many delays across the Northeast.
According to Trish Gilbert, the executive Vice President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the delays are caused by the partial government shutdown. “You can’t mess with a system that is so integral to the United States. This is reckless, what has been going on with the shutdown,” Trish tells CNN. And it’s true. The lack of federal workers have caused many problems across the country, and can be clearly seen in the airports.
Delays continued, specifically LaGuardia, because of a ground stop that has been ordered to clear congestion. Typically, long ground stops could have a major effect nationwide forcing airplane delays into other destinations. This region is one of the most trafficked airspace in the world: 20% of all airline passengers traveling out in the Northeast.
Including that, FAA officials were working hard to try their best with the staff shortage. The agency said, “We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two air traffic control facilities affecting New York and Florida.” There’s a shortage of workers due to the fact that many took vacation to try getting other jobs to still earn pay.
The partial federal government shutdown marks its 35th day, making it the longest shutdown in U.S. history. The Air Traffic Controllers Union warned that the ongoing shutdown presents a safety risk. Apparently, air traffic workers are making routine mistakes due to the high levels of stress they’re experiencing caused by the shutdown. They have all the pressure of the lack of staff as well as their personal circumstances, making air traffic worried that they’re not fit for the duty now.
Not only that, call outs are also double the rate of a year ago (7.6% from 3%) because of the government shutdown. The airports with the longest average wait times are Atlanta with 42 minutes and Baltimore with 37 minutes. The FAA agency said that air traffic controller staffing nationwide is expected to lose over 1600 controllers due to retirements, vacations, and promotions.
All in all, the partial federal government shutdown occurring in the United States has majorly affected the airports with delays, callouts, and safety risks.