FAA, TSA unions protest government shutdown at Cleveland airport

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On Wednesday, 7.5 percent of US airport security officers were off the job, more than double the 3 percent rate on the same day a year earlier, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday morning that some flights in and out of New York's LaGuardia airport were halted, and there are delays at airports in Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., due to an increase in the number of employees staying home.

The FAA, which urged travellers to check with airlines about possible flight delays, said it was managing the impact by calling in staff, rerouting traffic and allowing more space between flight departures.

"The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system", Martin said in an emailed statement.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement: "The President has been briefed and we are monitoring the ongoing delays at some airports".

"We encourage customers to check their flight status at Southwest.com for the most up-to-date information on today's operations".

The White House recently was given a stark portrayal for what would happen as it relates to commercial aviation if this shutdown continued, the source said. "I travel every week, and nothing surprises me".

Likewise, United's Hobart said Friday's delays are "another good illustration of the escalating impact of the government shutdown and the need for the federal government to promptly reopen".

Both air traffic control and the TSA are seeing more sick calls.

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At least one traveler tweeted that she was sitting on the tarmac for almost an hour because of "staff shortages in air traffic control".

Air traffic controller staffing nationwide also already had been a key FAA consideration.

The shutdown was in its 35th day Friday, as the deadlock over funding for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico continued.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that the shutdown was "pushing our airspace to the breaking point". Each passing hour makes the situation worse, he said.

John Hitt, a 51-year-old lawyer based in Boston, had expected to fly to Milwaukee via LaGuardia on Friday morning to visit his terminally ill aunt, but Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) told him his flight was delayed for at least two and a half hours. The airports with the longest average wait times were Atlanta with 42 minutes and Baltimore at 37 minutes.

Devine said the people he represents work in a job where "they have to be right 100 per cent of the time" or tragedy could strike, but that the shutdown has made that more hard. TSA would not reveal callout rates for individual airports. The move, which requires agreements in the Senate and Congress, could mean the 800,000 government workers will begin receiving paycheques.

"Controllers take their responsibility to protect the safety of the flying public at all costs very seriously".

As news of Friday's disruptions spread, leaders of aviation unions sent a message: I told you so.

"We just continue to watch this very closely, but there's only so much that we can do", Caruso said. Government workers "are tired, worried, and distracted, but they won't risk our safety", and will instead keep some planes on the ground, she said.