Trump briefed on airport delays, monitoring situation

Trump briefed on airport delays, monitoring situation

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Air traffic controllers work at the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center in Leesburg, Va. in a file photo. The Washington ARTCC is operated by the Federal Aviation Administration, which pays air traffic controllers. They missed their second paycheck this week due to the partial government shutdown. (Faa.gov)

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that President Donald Trump has been briefed on delays at major airports and is monitoring the situation.

“We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration,” Sanders said in a statement.

As the partial government shutdown hits it 35th day, the FAA is attributing a series of delays at major airports to staffing concerns.

The FAA is reporting that flights arriving into New York’s La Guardia Airport will be delayed on average by one hour and 26 minutes, as of 10:50 am EST.

Newark International Airport in New Jersey also is experiencing a 45-minute to one-hour delay for departing flights, as of 10:50 am EST.

In a statement, the FAA said that it has experienced “a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities,” but that it is taking steps to address the issue.

“We are mitigating the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed,” the statement reads.

About 800,000 federal workers, including thousands in aviation security, have either been kept home or are working with delayed pay since the funding for 25 percent of the government lapsed in late December.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the Air Line Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA issued a statement Wednesday night warning that the nation’s safety is in jeopardy.

“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 statement reads. “It is unprecedented.”

A solution to end the shutdown has proved elusive.

The Senate voted on two pieces of legislation that would have reopened the government Thursday, one that would include wall funds in exchange for three years of legislative relief for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status participants.

The second would have provided border security funding, but does not include money for the barrier.

Both failed and subsequent negotiations between Senate leaders have thus far been fruitless.

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