Memphis International Airport still feeling impacts of shutdown

Memphis International Airport still feeling impacts of shutdown

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The deal to reopen the federal government came hours after delays plagued the nation’s air travel, caused by sick calls from air traffic controllers who continued to work unpaid.

Passengers at Memphis International felt the pain.

Officials with Memphis International Airport say operations were minimally impacted here but some flight delays and cancellations did take place.

Pundits say the hiccup in the nation's air travel system Friday morning was likely one of the tipping points in solidifying that 3-week deal.

Adeliah Atkins was headed to New York City from Memphis to see her grandson play hockey at Madison Square Garden, keeping her fingers crossed she'd make it.

New York area airports, along with those in Philadelphia, had ground stops of more than an hour Friday morning as some air traffic controllers called out sick, and flights had to be spaced out.

Delays were also felt in Atlanta.

By midday, the flight board at Memphis International showed a handful of delays and cancellations, a trickledown effect from impacts on the nation's air centers.

“I’ve got friends that are laid off right now, it’s just really hard on them,” Atkins said.

The afternoon deal to reopen the government until February 15 means TSA agents and air traffic controllers, who were set to miss their second paycheck, will finally be compensated.

Some TSA agents at the airport said they were hopeful the stalemate would end Friday.

“They help us get to our places safety and secure if we're not paying these people it certainly can have an impact,” said traveler Rodney Mason.

“It's a lack of staff and I'd rather my pilots not be flying blind,” said traveler Andrew Lovely.

Unions for flight attendants and air traffic controllers have stated for weeks the shutdown put passenger safety at risk.

Friday afternoon, a union representing tens of thousands of flight attendants across multiple airlines put out a statement which says in part:

“It should be abundantly clear to the American people that federal workers are not faceless bureaucrats. They are patriotic, dedicated, public servants who keep us safe and make it possible for our country to run. We must never put them in the crosshairs of political disagreement.”

We did reach out to union contacts for air traffic controllers in Memphis, who referred us to their national office.

In a statement before the deal, the union president said many air traffic controllers had reached their breaking point of exhaustion, stress, and worry caused by the shutdown.

Though operations resume Friday night, airport officials say if you’re traveling, doublecheck with your airline for flight status.

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