Delays in NY airports after FAA slashed flights due to a shortage of air traffic control
New York passengers were facing a night of misery on Monday, as the Federal Aviation Authority announced there would be extensive delays at airports across the region due to a shortage of air traffic controllers.
As of 6pm Eastern Time, LaGuardia airport was the hardest hit, with a ‘ground stop’ implemented for some air traffic control zones – meaning flights destined for the airport were not allowed to take off.
Newark and JFK were also experiencing delays.
One woman tweeted a photo of an empty gate at JFK, and demanded information from the airport staff.
‘@JetBlue, what the hell is this?!’ she said.
‘2.5 hrs & counting, & now even the desk operator at the gate has abandoned us.
‘No explanation still about what’s happening with 1719 JFK to Atlanta?! I had just ordered your credit card thinking that I’ll frequent JetBlue & I am so regretting it!’
Another man tweeted: ‘Well. My flight is canceled. Sat at JFK Terminal before someone at the airport told me it’s canceled. Just got an email from LOT. Rescheduling flight for tomorrow.’
A related for the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) confirmed to DailyMail.com that the delay was due to staff shortages.
A traveler at LaGuardia airport. Passengers passing through the airport on Monday night were told to expect delays
Flight Aware’s ‘Misery Map’ showed issues in the New York area. Denver is also facing problems on Monday night, but their issues are due to weather
National Airspace System Status dashboard showed that the issue was with air traffic controllers in the New York sector (ZNY), with the source of the problem confirmed in the comments section
The New York region – ZNY – is seen on the air traffic control map
The National Airspace System Status dashboard showed that the issue was with air traffic controllers in the New York sector (ZNY), writing: ‘COMMENTS: STOP IS FOR ZNY STAFFING’.
‘Due to the availability of staff tonight, the FAA must reduce the flow of aircraft in certain airspace serving New York City to maintain safety,’ said Tony Molinaro, FAA.
‘Departure and arrival delays this evening could approach two hours at John F. Kennedy International, New York LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports.
‘Passengers should prepare for delays, and monitor for updates. Please check with your airline for information about specific flights.’
The FAA tweeted: ‘Due to unexpected staff availability tonight, the FAA must reduce the flow of aircraft around New York City to maintain safety.
‘Evening delays may be 2 hrs at @JFKairport, @LGAairport & @EWRairport.
‘Check for updates & w/ your airline for flight info.’
It was unclear what in particular has caused Monday’s New York staffing shortage.
The New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, known by the initials ZNY, is pictured in Ronkonkoma, on Long Island
One of the control towers at LaGuardia Airport is pictured, as the airport deals with delays
Airlines for America, a lobbying group, told DailyMail.com they could not comment on the circumstances of Monday’s staff shortage in the New York region.
But in June, the industry trade body told Pete Buttigieg, the Transportation Secretary, in a letter that staffing challenges are disrupting flights even in good weather.
They said on June 24 that the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center in Florida had been ‘understaffed for 27 of the last 30 days, which is crippling to the entire east coast traffic flows.’
Travelers have endured a difficult summer amid record demand, and as airlines rebuild staff levels after thousands of workers left the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FAA responded in a statement that ‘after receiving $54 billion in pandemic relief to help save the airlines from mass layoffs and bankruptcy, the American people deserve to have their expectations met.’
The agency added it ‘has acted on the issues raised in the letter’ including adding alternate routes, placing more controllers in high demand areas, and increasing data sharing.
The FAA said in May it would boost air traffic control staff in Florida.
The letter said one carrier estimated ATC-related issues ‘were a factor in at least one-third of recent cancellations.’
The group said ATC ‘staffing challenges have led to traffic restrictions under blue sky conditions.’
The letter also said it was ‘imperative’ to ensure adequate staffing at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control.
On August 15, the FAA told The Wall Street Journal it plans to hire 1,500 new air traffic controllers nationwide, starting next fiscal year – October 1.
‘Where demand has increased, the FAA is adding additional controllers,’ the FAA said.