More than 100 departing and arriving flights were delayed and dozens more were canceled at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Thursday afternoon after an air traffic control tower was partially shut down for a coronavirus-related deep cleaning.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at around 1:30 pm Thursday released a statement saying that travelers both leaving from and arriving to Austin should expect delays related to the sanitation.
As of 4 pm on Thursday, 110 arriving flights and 72 departing flights were delayed, airport spokesperson Bailey Grimmett said. Those delays ranged from 20 minutes to more than four hours, according to airport staff.
Another 19 incoming flights and 13 departing flights were also canceled. However, Grimmett added that it was unclear how many of the delayed and canceled flights were a direct result of the tower disruption.
The tower was able to accept a limited number of flights Thursday until it resumed normal operations, so it did not completely shut down, according to Grimmett.
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Grimmett on Thursday deferred all further questions about the situation to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA in a statement to the American-Statesman on Thursday said “per standard FAA protocols, the local approach control assumed the tower’s airspace” while it was being cleaned.
However, the FAA did not immediately confirm the specific reason why the tower was partially shut down, apart from it being COVID-19 related.
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It was unclear as of Thursday afternoon how long the delays would continue, or if more flights were expected to be canceled.
Correction: This article has been corrected to state that the air traffic control tower was partially shut down.