"In our risk averse industry, we can not even calculate the level of risk now at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break", said a statement from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Air Line Pilots Association and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA read.
A White House official said the air traffic delays played a key role in Trump backing down - at least temporarily - from his insistence on border wall funding to reopen the government.
The organization says that they're working to mitigate the impact by rerouting traffic and increasing the space between aircrafts as necessary.
"When you're talking about safety in the airspace, now you're talking about operational things, and those are not protected", Soucie said, distinguishing between airline safety inspectors and the controllers that maintain the air traffic. Air traffic controllers and airport security agents have been working without pay since the federal shutdown began in December, but high absentee rates raise the possibility of long airport lines, or even worse.
O'Hare was second only to LaGuardia in flight delays Friday morning, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
A lack of air traffic controllers is causing chaos along the US eastern seaboard. That said, it's hard to confirm the exact status of flights, so check with your airline and prepare to wait out delays on the tarmac and on the taxiway.
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"At this point, we don't anticipate significant schedule disruptions, but it is another good illustration of the escalating impact of the government shutdown and the need for the federal government to promptly re-open", the United statement read.
"Enough is enough", declared MoveOn.org, demanding that Trump and McConnell work to immediately reopen the government.
Flights at numerous major US airports were delayed Friday due to an "increase in sick leave" among air-traffic controllers, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Flights into three U.S. airports are being delayed due to staffing issues in air traffic control, the Federal Aviation Administration has said.
"To my Democratic friends: Money for a barrier is required to get this deal done", he said on the Senate floor, explaining that Trump's spending of the funds would be limited to plans approved by the Department of Homeland Security.
Newark International Airport was also affected with up to 44 minute taxi and gate hold delays.
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, wrote on Twitter that the shutdown "has already pushed hundreds of thousands of Americans to the breaking point".
Three North Texas-based air traffic controllers have resigned as a result of the government shutdown.