Flights into NY airport halted over worker shortage

Planes are seen parked at the terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York City after hundreds of flights were grounded or delayed on Jan 25, 2019.
Planes are seen parked at the terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York City after hundreds of flights were grounded or delayed on Jan 25, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

DALLAS • The US authorities halted flights into New York's LaGuardia Airport yesterday because of a shortage of air-traffic control staff, escalating the pressure on President Donald Trump and lawmakers to end the government shutdown.

A lack of workers at an air-traffic control facility in the Washington area prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to order a ground stop yesterday at LaGuardia, one of the busiest US transportation hubs.

Flights were halted shortly before 10am local time (11pm Singapore time), the BBC reported.

Flights at other East Coast airports such as Washington's Reagan National, Newark Liberty International and Philadelphia International were also delayed yesterday.

The flight disruptions underscored the rising impact of the government shutdown as the closing dragged into the 35th day. JetBlue Airways chief executive Robin Hayes warned that the risk to the aviation system was reaching a "tipping point".

Some 420,000 federal workers, including Transportation Security Administration screeners and air traffic controllers, have been deemed essential and told to go to work even though they are not receiving regular pay.

A staffing shortage was also reported at a facility overseeing air traffic in Jacksonville, Florida, said an FAA website.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2019, with the headline 'Flights into NY airport halted over worker shortage'. Print Edition | Subscribe