Monday,  August 26, 2019  4:05 am

BREAKING: LaGuardia halts flights amid partial government shutdown

BREAKING: LaGuardia halts flights amid partial government shutdown
The new concourse at LaGuardia Airport, photographed above late last year. Flights at LGA have come to a temporary standstill due to staffing issues.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

This article has been updated as of 2:45 p.m. EST to include updates from Air Canada and WestJet.

Flights out of New York's LaGuardia Airport have come to a temporary standstill, after the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States (FAA) cited staffing issues as a major disruptor.

READ MORE: TSA struggles under U.S. government shutdown as sick numbers soar

In a statement on the company's website, the FAA wrote:

"We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities. We are mitigating the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed."

Aviation operations under pressure

The announcement from the FAA comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week, when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) declared that it had seen a national rate of 7.5 per cent of unscheduled absences compared to a 3.3 per cent rate one year ago on the same weekday (Jan. 22). 

Due to a lack of funding, neither the TSA nor the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are responding to phone calls. Both agencies have stated on their company websites that until funding by the U.S. government is restored, the information on their websites will be updated on a very limited basis, if at all.

UPDATE: Air Canada & WestJet

Both Air Canada & WestJet operate flights out of LaGuardia. At the time of writing, Air Canada has posted a travel alert to its Twitter page:

In a statement to PAX, Air Canada wrote:

"We currently anticipate operating our regularly scheduled flights to LGA and EWR. As we normally do, we remind customers to check their flight’s status on before going to the airport. Two flights from Toronto and one from Montreal to LGA were cancelled today due to ATC issues, with affected passengers able to travel on later flights. We operate 13 return flights from Toronto and eight from Montreal to LaGuardia on weekdays."

WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart has confirmed with PAX that the airline has experienced delays and cancellations "over the last four hours and expect[s] further delays and possible cancellations if more constraints are placed on the air traffic system."

"We are responding to the situation as required to keep our guests moving and recommend that guests check their flights prior to heading to the airport for transborder travel," Stewart wrote PAX in an emailed statement.

WestJet has posted an updated travel advisory on its website, which can be found here. 

"We are appreciative of the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the air traffic control system who assist in the safe movement of our aircraft each day," Stewart wrote. "This is a most unfortunate situation that our ATC partners find themselves in and it’s our hope that the parties involved can resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

Travellers greatly affected

Kasia Dundas, a PR specialist for the Intrepid Travel Group, North America, is currently in New York, and was scheduled to fly home tomorrow on an Air Canada flight, which has now been cancelled.

"The flight cancellations have impacted thousands of travellers, who are all rushing to rebook their flights and get to their next destination from LaGuardia," Dundas told PAX by phone this morning. "Air Canada has been extremely helpful and gracious with refunds and rescheduling flights during an unfortunate and uncomfortable situation."

LaGuardia has also taken to Twitter to share the following update:

Those who were scheduled to depart from LaGuardia are advised to visit or to monitor social media for more updates.

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