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Flights to LaGuardia halted due to air traffic controller shortage

January 25, 2019 GMT

There are currently no flights going into New York LaGuardia airport, due to a staffing shortage of air traffic controllers, according to the FAA.

The FAA’s real-time airport status system warns of “a traffic management program in effect for traffic arriving La Guardia Airport.” The delays have climed up to more than an hour since traffic was halted.

Incoming flights at Liberty/Newark and Philladelhia are also affected.

Other airports are experiencing considerable delays, and flyers heading to New York are finding themselves stranded.

“My parents are grounded in Toronto, unable to fly into LaGuardia because of an air traffic control staff shortage,” comedian Orli Matlow said on Twitter.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, informed of the flight delays during an interview on NPR Friday moorning, said there are real-world consequences.

“If our airports are not functioning people will die,” de Blasio told host Brian Lehrer. “What a tragedy. We’re supposed to be the greatest country on earth and we can’t keep the airports open.”

Air traffic controllers are among “essential” employees, asked to work without pay during the partial federal government shudown, now in its 34th day.

The unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants issued a joint statement earlier this week, saying the situation was at a “breaking point.”

“There are no options to keep these professionals at work without a paycheck when they can no longer afford to support their families,” the statement said. “We find it unconscionable that aviation professionals are being asked to work without pay and in an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day.”

The TSA is also short-staffed, with the rate of unexpected call-outs hitting higher than 7 percent. The TSA said Friday it would offer lower wage employees partial pay.

This is a developing story. Check back later for details.