Air safety measures are 'unraveling' due to shutdown, says air traffic union

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

Air Traffic Controllers Warn of 'Unprecedented' Safety Risk As Government Shutdown Continues

One of New York City's main airports has been shut by federal authorities, owing to a lack of air traffic controllers during the government shutdown.

The agency has dispatched extra screeners to airports in Atlanta, LaGuardia Airport in NY, and Newark, New Jersey. "We've mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed".

The White House was concerned about the economic impact of a significant disruption within the national airspace system, including the commerce it supports, the source said.

"I can't say exactly why they're absent", Trish Gilbert with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association tells CNN.

Air traffic controllers and airport security agents have been working without pay since the federal shutdown began in December, and rising absentee rates have led to longer airport lines.

"We are closely monitoring the situation on the East Coast today", Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said in an emailed statement. That said, it's hard to confirm the exact status of flights, so check with your airline and prepare to wait out delays on the tarmac and on the taxiway.

Trump says the two sides have reached a deal on a so-called continuing resolution, which would ensure the government has the money to continue operating until February 15, and that workers will receive back pay as soon as possible. While it's legally possible for Congress to pass a bill that would pay controllers, it's more likely that politicians will use travel delays as a bargaining chip in the ongoing battle over reopening the government.

The two dozen US airports, such as San Francisco International, that are allowed to use screening companies have been operating normally during the federal shutdown, with the screeners receiving normal paychecks from the companies.

The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted flights into New York's LaGuardia Airport on Friday due to a staffing shortage during the government shutdown, Bloomberg reports.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop for flights destined for New York's LaGuardia Airport on Friday morning before lifting it about an hour later. According to Robert Costa, as early as last week, two "senior Republican lawmakers" said that "the only way this breaks open is if TSA employees stay home and Americans get furious about their flights".

"Many controllers have reached the breaking point of exhaustion, stress, and worry caused by this shutdown", Rinaldi said.

Air Canada posted a statement on its website notifying customers that flights into Newark and LaGuardia are affected by air-traffic-control restrictions and that it is waiving the fee to rebook a seat.

A rising number of federal employees have been calling in sick as a sign of protest for not being paid during the shutdown.

About a third of incoming flights to LaGuardia were delayed as of late Friday morning, according to the FlightAware tracking service.

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