LaGuardia Airport gets back on track as longest-ever shutdown ends

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Travelers at LaGuardia Airport were relieved Saturday to find flights getting back to normal after a deal was reached to end the longest federal government shutdown in history.

It was a different scene Friday, when passengers had faced delays and cancellations after too many air traffic controllers had called out sick. According to the FAA, the problems stemmed from staffing shortages at two air traffic control facilities in Washington, D.C., and Jacksonville, Florida.

Those federal employees who didn't show up for work had just gone a second pay period in a row without receiving a check. That caused a domino effect that snarled service at several airports, including LaGuardia, where a ground stop was briefly ordered.

Not long after, President Donald Trump and congressional leaders struck a deal to end the shutdown after 35 days. The House and Senate quickly passed the measure, and Trump signed it Friday night. By Saturday morning, flights at LaGuardia Airport were mostly on time and crowds there were light.

News 12 spoke to passengers at the airport Saturday who were glad to see a return to normalcy.

"I'm very happy I'm flying today as opposed to yesterday," said traveler Dan Formento. "I was checking the website, hoping the delays didn't continue into today. So I'm glad the shutdown is over and we're flying again."

But the deal to end the shutdown only funds the government for three weeks as negotiations continue on border security. President Trump warned Friday that another shutdown is possible if a tenable deal isn't struck for a barrier along the US-Mexico border.

The president and Congress have until Feb. 15 to reach a longer-term deal. Affected federal workers have been guaranteed back pay, though it's not yet clear when they will receive it.

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