September 18, 2019
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Maine flights to and from LaGuardia delayed amid government shutdown

Mary Altaffer | AP
Mary Altaffer | AP
A Delta Air Lines jet waits on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s restrictions on traffic into and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport have trickled down to Bangor International Airport, causing delays on Friday’s flights between Bangor and LaGuardia.

The delays are the result of staff shortages at two East Coast air traffic control stations due to the ongoing federal government shutdown that has left air traffic controllers without paychecks.

While Delta flights between Bangor and LaGuardia have been listed as delayed, airlines hadn’t listed major delays on flights to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Philadelphia International Airport — two other major airports where travelers are experiencing delays — as of noon Friday.

[Why Maine TSA workers are finding ‘a lot of Hannaford gift cards’ in airport security bins]

An afternoon Delta flight from Portland to LaGuardia was also listed as delayed as of noon Friday.

With the shutdown in its sixth week, air travel in the U.S. had not yet experienced significant delays or cancellations until Friday. Bangor International Airport Director Tony Caruso said that it is difficult to predict how the shutdown might eventually affect BIA, a small airport with only a handful of daily flights, but that he and his staff and the federal employees at the facility are taking it one day at a time.

“We just continue to watch this very closely, but there’s only so much that we can do,” Caruso said. “We’re in uncharted territory, so we just take it day by day.”

[A running list of the shutdown’s effects in Maine]

Caruso said that the effects of short staffing at major hubs including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., can be magnified due to the size of the facility. Staff shortages there can have ripple effects outward into the rest of the country.

“It’s just something we have to watch and see how it all progresses,” he said.

Though TSA workers are among the federal employees who are currently furloughed, Caruso said BIA’s Customs and Transportation Security Administration workers have been coming in and working without pay the entire time, and that local individuals, businesses and organizations including the Good Shepherd Food Bank have been assisting them.

“We’ve had a lot of our passengers show a lot of support to our federal employees. They really sympathize with what they’re going through,” he said. “Our TSA workers keep showing up, though.”

 



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