FAA: Increase in sick leave causing flight delays

Carlos Gonzalez right hugs his daughter as she waits in line at a security checkpoint at Miami International Airport in Miami. The strain of a 34-day partial government shutdown is weighing on the nation’s air-travel system. (AP

Carlos Gonzalez right hugs his daughter as she waits in line at a security checkpoint at Miami International Airport in Miami. The strain of a 34-day partial government shutdown is weighing on the nation’s air-travel system. (AP

Meanwhile, outgoing flights are also being reported at two other major East Coast airports, Newark International and Philadelphia International.

FAA spokesman Gregory Martin said the staffing problems were at air traffic centers in Jacksonville, Florida, and a Washington, D.C., center that controls high-altitude air traffic over seven states.

Departing flights from Philadelphia and Newark are delayed between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes, and LaGuardia departures delayed between 15 and 30 minutes, the FAA said.

A White House official said the air traffic delays played a key role in Trump backing down - at least temporarily - from his insistence on border wall funding to reopen the government. The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system. The head of the USA air traffic controllers' union complained that air traffic controllers are making mistakes which they haven't made in decades - all because of the stressful situation provoked by the shutdown.

The disruptions come the day after the US Senate rejected two shutdown-ending bills as hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed a second pay cheque on Friday.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had maximum wait times Thursday of 42 minutes, the highest of the nation's top 42 airports, TSA said in a statement Friday. Massport says they are "aware and monitoring the situation". The UNICEF fundraiser told ABC News her airline, Delta, did not tell passengers why the flights were delayed at LaGuardia Airport, although she got a text at 5 a.m. ET saying the flight would take off at 9:45 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.as originally scheduled.

Trump said on Friday he had reached a deal with USA lawmakers for three weeks in stop-gap funding that would end the budget stalemate with Democrats.

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The U.S. government shutdown is hitting the nation's airports. "They are driving as a taxi on the way home from work, on the way to work, in the hours in between the shifts", said Mick Devine, the New England regional vice-president of the National Air Traffic Controller Association.

Even before the shutdown, the FAA had identified the busy Northeast corridor as a priority for improving its air traffic control infrastructure, targeting the region for planned improvements in communications procedures and efficient runway operations.

They will be paid once the shutdown ends, but in the meantime, many are describing financial hardships, relying on food banks, and worrying whether they can pay the rent or mortgage.

TSA has been moving agents to airports where there are shortages, and occasionally consolidating checkpoints, to prevent lines from getting too long. "We're trying to get everyone involved to work something out". "We are already short-staffed".

"It was supposed to set out at 9:02 so we were delayed over an hour and a half", Di Paola said in a message to NJ Advance Media while his flight was en route to Florida.

"In this spirit, we urge that the federal government be reopened before shutdown impacts begin to escalate".

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