Flights have now resumed at both Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field after being temporarily halted Wednesday at the request of the FAA, NBC 5 has learned.
A spokesperson for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport said just before 5:30 p.m. "The FAA has closed the airspace in and out of the DFW Airport until 5:00 p.m. Central Time. This is due to a required sanitization cleaning of offsite FAA facilities that control the airspace in DFW. This will result in flights being delayed or possibly canceled. Customers are encouraged to monitor flight status boards or contact your airline for updated information."
The Federal Aviation Administration later confirmed that an employee at the Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center tested positive after being in the facility on Christmas Day. Because of that, the area had to be cleared for cleaning.
The FAA also said weather played a role in the delays.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman Doug Church released the following statement.
“NATCA and the FAA have committed to following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to protect the health and safety of the nation’s front-line air traffic control workforce. We staff each facility in the National Airspace System (NAS) to keep traffic moving as safely and efficiently as possible. But we are not immune from this virus, particularly in the very close quarters in which our members work and are unable to safely distance despite the mandatory use of face coverings. COVID-19 has affected every aspect of life, not just in the United States but the world. Aviation has been devastated. "As we move forward with this unrelenting virus prevalent in each U.S. state and territory in which we work, we will continue to work collaboratively with the FAA to keep these employees safe so that we can continue to move people, cargo, and the COVID-19 vaccine. "We take great pride in our work to keep the NAS moving safely and efficiently. It is our profound hope that 2021 will bring us to the start of a period of recovery for our nation and the world."
Dallas Love Field tweeted just before 5:30 p.m. "The air traffic stoppage has been lifted. Delays will continue, but operations are resuming. Check with your airline for updates on your flight status."
The FAA confirmed on Wednesday that Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is closed for all incoming and outgoing flights until 5:30 p.m. A spokesperson from Dallas Love Field Airport also confirmed that all incoming and outgoing flights at that airport have also been temporarily halted.
The FAA said the delay is happening for multiple reasons, including thunderstorms and COVID-19.
Information from the FAA shows at least one failed COVID-19 test among personnel at the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center on several dates this month, including 12/23, 12/28 and 12/30. The FAA also indicates that the control center is operational, but that the facility will be cleaned Wednesday between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Daniel Pitts was on American Airlines Flight 422 headed to Orlando when the ground stop went into place. He told us the pilot of his plane said the control tower was not operating due to COVID-19 and that it could be several hours before flights are allowed to leave. His plane was sent back to the gate and all passengers were allowed to get off the plane and go back into the terminal.
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Korey Anderson said her family spent more than an hour grounded in New Orleans after getting diverted on their way back to DFW from Cancun.
Though it wasn't ideal, she said the delay wasn't necessarily unexpected.
“Given the times, we all know that flying there are going to be risks involved with flying, and this is just one of those added risks," said Anderson.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. Please refresh this page often for the latest information.