WASHINGTON — Flights along the East coast experienced delays on Friday because of a staffing shortage at FAA air traffic control. Some think it led to the president ending the government shutdown today.
The government shutdown has hurt TSA agents, flight controllers and has now trickled down to travelers.
Airports across the country have reported delays.
“As a passenger, it’s challenging for those who travel a lot. More important I think it’s challenging for these agents who have to provide security for us,” Robert Allen, a traveler, said.
This week, the president of the Air Traffic Controllers Association warned workers reached their limit.
“There are proud professionals that are trying to keep this system running. I’m getting hundreds and hundreds of reports that I can’t come to work anymore,” Paul Rinaldi, NATCA president, said.
Officials said delays at Reagan National and across the eastern seaboard were due to staffing shortages caused by the government shutdown.
An FAA spokesperson confirms a high number of air traffic controllers took sick leave Friday, causing officials to halt flights out of safety concerns.
Senators worry the extended shutdown is making matters worse for unpaid airline employees.
“Putting that kind of stress in a job like that is immoral,” Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.
“It should have worried us before the shutdown, it should frighten us at this moment,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, said.
Travelers sympathize with affected federal workers.
“If you can’t survive without a paycheck you have to make some tough decisions,” Eric Ewing, a traveler, said.
Despite going another week without a paycheck, Rinaldi assures the public safety remains his agency’s top priority.
“The controllers are going to make sure that you get from point a to point b safely,” Rinaldi said. “We don’t know if it’s going to be on time, we don’t know if you are going to make your connections.”