The government shutdown is now wreaking more havoc than ever on airports, with the FAA temporarily halting flights into New York's LaGuardia Friday morning. The agency cited a shortage of air traffic controllers for the disruption as well as for flight delays of an hour or more at several major airports, per CNBC. A map currently shows delays at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International, as well as in Orlando, Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta. The FAA references "a slight increase in sick leave at two air traffic control facilities affecting New York and Florida," per CNN. Aviation unions describe air safety as "deteriorating by the day" due in part to fewer workers on the job. That includes TSA screeners. However, an FAA rep on Thursday cited "no unusual increased absenteeism" related to the shutdown.
"We will adjust operations to a safe rate to match available controller resources. We've mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft as needed," reads the Friday statement. Trish Gilbert of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association isn't soothed. "We are already short-staffed. Now, you have added the stress to air traffic controllers and their personal circumstances, and they're not sleeping at night. We are concerned that they are not fit for duty," she tells CNN. "This is reckless." Warning of "a ripple effect on other flights around the country," Fortune reports the closure of LaGuardia, one of the nation's busiest airports, remained in effect even after its scheduled end at 10:45am EST. The FAA maintains it is still safe to fly. (Aviation unions, however, say they "cannot even calculate the level of risk.")