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Staffing shortage forces halt to arriving flights at airports

NEW YORK (Gray News) - The Federal Aviation Administration reported flight delays Friday to LaGuardia Airport in New York, Newark’s Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Philadelphia International Airport, before President Donald Trump announced in the afternoon a deal to end the shutdown and fund the government for three weeks.

It’s unclear when full funding will return to agencies like the FAA and Transportation Security Administration. Employees at those agencies had been working throughout the shutdown without pay, leading to masses of callouts and staffing shortages.

The FAA had told CNN that staffing issues caused the ground stop at LaGuardia Friday morning. They were resolved, but residual delays remained.

Flights arriving at LaGuardia and Newark were delayed by nearly an 1 hour and a half, while departures from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport were delayed between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes. Most of those have been resolved.

The delays were due to staffing shortages at air traffic centers in Jacksonville, FL, and Washington D.C., caused by the ongoing government shutdown now in its 35th day.

The FAA confirmed the delay in a tweet Friday morning.

The flight issues occurred as people embarked on weekend travel. Many took to Twitter to report that they were stuck at airports or on planes.

Delta, in its Twitter feed, noted that there were 200 flight delays at New York’s LaGuardia Airport due to the FAA’s Ground Delay Program as of Friday afternoon.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the airport delays.

“We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA,” she said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also tweeted about the flight delays.

“The #TrumpShutdown is now wreaking havoc at our nation’s airports, including LaGuardia. We must stop this madness,” he said.

FAA spokesman Gregory Martin told the Associated Press Friday that it had expanded staffing, rerouted flights and increased spacing between planes as needed.

LaGuardia, located in Queens, NY, is the busiest U.S. airport that does not have a direct connection to Europe, according to its website.

The airport is the 20th busiest in the country with passenger traffic more than 29.7 million per year, according to FAA.

The airport has two runways, four terminals and about 15 airlines operating in its facilities.

The airport was named after New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who served from 1934 to 1945. La Guardia wanted an airport that served New York City, since the closest airport at that time was in Newark, NJ.

Newark’s Liberty International Airport was the busiest commercial airport in the world until LaGuardia opened in 1939, according to Vista Parking.

It is among the nation’s oldest airports.

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