Shutdown causing air travel safety concerns, union leaders say

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

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

CLEVELAND- Two unions picketed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Friday morning.

New York-area airports - specifically Newark International and LaGuardia International - appeared to be impacted the most with the longest reported delays, according to the FAA's tracking website.

Trump spoke at the White House on Friday as intensifying delays at some of the nation's busiest airports and widespread disruptions brought new urgency to efforts to break the impasse.

The FAA attributed the delays to "a slight increase in sick leave" and said that the effects on the aviation system were moderate. The airline industry's three biggest unions said "we are not confident that system-wide analyses of safety reporting data, which is used to identify and implement corrective actions in order to reduce risks and prevent accidents is 100% operational due to reduced FAA resources". A representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the controllers' union, also did not immediately return a request for comment.

The delays come as a partial government shutdown threatens to undermine the nation's air travel system.

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The delays and aggravation for voters will escalate the pressure on President Donald Trump and lawmakers to end the government shutdown.

The shutdown has resulted in government employees' pay being delayed.

"Passengers may experience delays and should check with their airline for the latest information about their flight", Massport said.

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Travelers endured widespread flight delays in the Northeast as federal officials grappled with a shortage of air traffic controllers, who missed paychecks Friday because of the partial government shutdown.

"We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA", Sanders said in a statement.

Friday's announcement by the FAA is significant because it is the first time there has been a shortage of air traffic controllers.

"When you're talking about safety in the airspace, now you're talking about operational things, and those are not protected", Soucie said, distinguishing between airline safety inspectors and the controllers that maintain the air traffic. The airports with the longest average wait times were Atlanta with 42 minutes and Baltimore at 37 minutes.

"We're still showing up, we're doing the best we can", air traffic controller John Murdock told CTV News Channel. TSA would not to reveal callout rates for individual airports. "We're trying to get everyone involved to work something out".

The Federal Aviation Administration briefly issued a ground stop for arriving flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Friday before lifting it about an hour later.

Air traffic controller staffing nationwide also already had been a key FAA consideration.

On Thursday, three major U.S. airlines - American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways - said the impact of the shutdown on their business had so far been limited but was nearing a tipping point.

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