Major northeast airports facing delays due to staffing issues from shutdown

Flight traffic into several major northeastern airports was delayed on Friday due to a staff shortage stemming from the partial government shutdown.

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Traffic into LaGuardia Airport was delayed on average 41 minutes, according to a notification from the Federal Aviation Administration. Bloomberg reported earlier in the day that the FAA had halted flights into the airport.

Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport were also experiencing delays.

"We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities. We’ve mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed," FAA said in a statement. "The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system."

The White House, in a statement, said it was “monitoring the ongoing delays at some airports."

"We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA.” said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Top U.S. airlines on Thursday said that the now 34-day lapse in partial government funding was weighing on earnings in the first quarter of 2019 and is having an impact on air travel.

"I will sum it up in a word: It's maddening," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told investors, adding that it could cost the airline $15 million in sales. "Everyone needs to be on notice, on guard, that this shutdown could harm the economy and it could harm air travel. We will do everything we can to find a way to work through this slop."

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American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said the shutdown would put a tighter strain on TSA workers and lead to longer waits in the security lines.

"When we don't have enough TSA agents, you'll see longer lines. When we don't have enough air traffic controllers, you'll see more delays in airspace. Those would be bad things," he told investors.

On Thursday, TSA had a 7.6 percent of "unscheduled abscenes," an increase over 3 percent a year ago, TSA said in a statement. Overall, 99.9 percent of travelers waited less than 30 minutes.

Unions for air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants on Wednesday said there are "serious safety concerns" for airline travel due to the shutdown.

“In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break,” the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Air Line Pilots Association and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA wrote in a statement. “It is unprecedented.”