Flights were delayed at LaGuardia Airport (LGA), the Federal Aviation Administration is reporting, and the cause relates to staffing issues stemming from the partial government shutdown.
On January 25, 2019, the FAA’s website reported around 11:30 a.m. on the east coast that some arriving flights were delayed into the airport. The reason given: Staffing issues. “Due to OTHER / STAFFING, there is a Traffic Management Program in effect for traffic arriving La Guardia Airport, New York, NY (LGA),” the FAA website reported. Check the latest information on LGA delays here.
LaGuardia airport wrote on Twitter; “Due to staffing shortages at FAA air traffic control centers along the East Coast, there are major delays at LGA. Confirm your flight with your airline.” According to CNN, there were also flight delays in Newark and Philadelphia for the same reason on January 29.
“This is causing some arriving flights to be delayed an average of 1 hour and 26 minutes. To see if you may be affected, select your departure airport and check ‘Delays by Destination,'” wrote the FAA on its website about the late morning LaGuardia delays. “The status information provided on this site indicates general airport conditions; it is not flight-specific. Check with your airline to determine if your flight is affected.” You can look up flight information for any airport through the FAA website here.
However, LaGuardia was open. The airport was not closed.
Here’s what you need to know:
People Complained About the Delays on Twitter & Sick Leave Increases Caused Them, Reports Said
Some passengers took to Twitter to share photos of the delays.
Trish Gilbert, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told CNN: “You can’t mess with a system that is so integral to the United States. This is reckless, what has been going on with the shutdown.”
Gothamist reported that the staffing issues affecting LaGuardia derived from airports in Jacksonville, Florida and Washington D.C. The FAA told Gothamist that there was a “slight increase in sick leave at two facilities,” which was handled by “augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed.”
Nate Johnson, Director of Weather Operations for NBCUniversal Owned TV Stations, wrote on Twitter on the morning of January 25, 2019, “Ground stop for flights inbound to NY LaGuardia has been lifted. Inbound flights are being allowed to depart to LGA but with departure delays averaging almost an hour and a half.”
He explained, “BTW, lots of confusion about what a ‘ground stop for such-and-such airport’ is. It doesn’t mean such-and-such airport stops. It means stuff headed for such-and-such airport is stopped or delayed on the ground. This helps pace out inbound planes.”
The FAA’s website describes a ground stop as being “implemented for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are:
To control air traffic volume to airports when the projected traffic demand is expected to exceed the airport’s acceptance rate for a short period of time.
To temporarily stop traffic to allow time for the implementation of a longer-term solution, such as a Ground Delay Program.
The affected airport’s acceptance rate has been reduced to zero.”
Johnson also reported that staffing issues at other airports, including those in Florida and Washington D.C., were affecting the LaGuardia delays.
Alexandra Ocasio-Ortez commented on the LaGuardia situation on Twitter, writing, “In my 1st speech on the Floor, I warned about shutdown stress on NYC air traffic control. Now LaGuardia is grounded. Do you understand the economic + social impact of grounding flights because two people are insisting on a project *now* that the majority of Americans oppose?”
Some people expressed anger on social media about the situation at LGA. One man wrote, “Flying into LaGuardia tonight. Should be fun…I don’t want a wall. I would like to be able to fly into other cities though.” A woman wrote: “Still stuck at #laguardia. 1st flight canceled, 2nd delayed. sigh. Shutdown causes delays at airport.”