Shutdown restricts air traffic in New York, but Salt Lake City International hasn’t been affected — yet

A TSA worker helps passengers at the Salt Lake City International Airport, Wednesday, Jan., 16, 2019, in Salt Lake City. The government shutdown has generated an outpouring of generosity to TSA agents and other federal employees who are working without pay. In Salt Lake City, airport officials treated workers from the TSA, FAA and Customs and Border Protection to a free barbecue lunch as a gesture to keep their spirits up during a difficult time. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government forced flight restrictions at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Friday, but operations at Salt Lake City International remain unaffected.

“We have no non-stop flights to LaGuardia, so that hasn’t affected us directly,” said airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer. “But we’re keeping an eye on it.”

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement that because of a “slight increase in sick leaves,” it had “temporarily” restricted flights in and out of LaGuardia. “We’ve mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed. The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system."

It has not exactly been business as usual at Salt Lake City’s airport, Volmer said, but passengers haven’t been adversely affected. The Transportation Safety Administration continues to conduct security checks and air traffic controllers have kept flights on schedule, despite the fact that those employees won’t get paid until the government reopens. They missed their second paycheck Friday.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski had pizza delivered to TSA and other federal employees to thank them for working at the airport without pay during the partial federal shutdown on Tuesday Jan. 22, 2019. Food from the Utah Food Pantry was stacked around the training room to cover the needs of employees.

Members of the American Federation of Government Employees have been protesting at the airport, and the TSA training room at Salt Lake International has been turned into a food pantry for workers. A number of food vendors are also providing meals.

“People are having trouble making ends meet,” Volmer said. “They’ve missed two paychecks now, and it’s just getting harder for them. And it’s just going to get harder the longer this goes on.”

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