March 20, 2020 / 4:09 PM / 9 days ago

U.S. FAA closes air traffic facilities in New York, Indianapolis for coronavirus cleaning

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it had temporarily closed the air traffic control tower at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and shuttered part of the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center for cleaning after workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

The FAA said a technician at JFK had tested positive and air traffic controllers will operate from an alternate location on airport property.

American Airlines Group Inc said it had cancelled 20 of its 68 scheduled departures from JFK on Friday due to a reduced incoming arrival rate as traffic control was shifted to the other location.

In Indiana, after an air traffic control supervisor tested positive, the FAA vacated work areas at the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control and flights through the airspace handled by those sectors were rerouted.

Air traffic control towers remain closed at Chicago Midway and Las Vegas airports after other coronavirus cases were reported earlier this week.

Airlines have cancelled more than 1,000 flights this week after coronavirus-related tower outages, including more than 700 flights on Thursday and Friday at Las Vegas and more than 800 over the last two days at Midway, according to flightaware.com

Southwest Airlines has resumed operations in Chicago after cancelling more than 200 flights on Thursday. The airline said it had also cancelled another 150 flights at Chicago and more than 165 flights at Las Vegas airport on Friday.

On Thursday, the FAA placed a temporary flight restriction over Midway to allow only commercial flights and other authorized flights after a number of local private pilots began using the airport for touch-and-go landing practice.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Chris Reese

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