American airport shuts down due to shortage of staffs

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The US government shutdown is creating havoc at New York’s major domestic airport at the busiest time of the week.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which runs air-traffic control, is delaying arrivals at La Guardia airport, the closest to Manhattan, due to “staffing issues”.

It says: “There is a Traffic Management Program in effect for traffic arriving La Guardia Airport, New York, NY (LGA). This is causing some arriving flights to be delayed an average of 41 minutes.”

The FAA has issued an advisory to pilots and airlines warning that some flights could be delayed by up to 77 minutes.

Departures are facing delays of up to 20 minutes at present, though that is certain to increase as inbound aircraft are delayed.

The staff shortages are at remote Air Route Traffic Control Centers in Washington DC and Jacksonville, Florida.

While La Guardia has fewer flights than New York’s international airports, Newark and JFK, it is preferred by many passengers – especially business travellers – for its proximity to Manhattan.

There are also reports of problems affecting Newark and Philadelphia. The

As federal employees, air-traffic controllers have missed two successive monthly pay days due to the partial shutdown.

On Thursday the FAA tweeted a message of reassurance about safety. But on the same day, executives from the big US airlines warned that the aviation system was at a “tipping point”.

Robin Hayes, chief executive of New York-based jetBlue, said: “The longer this goes on, the longer it will take for the nation’s air travel infrastructure to rebound.”

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