A Federal Aviation Administration air-traffic control center in Jacksonville closed for an unexpected cleaning for the second time in two weeks after another employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The sudden closure will likely cause flight delays and cancellations in airports in South Florida and across the state Wednesday evening, officials said. The center will be closed between 4:20 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
The same center closed for cleaning on Jan. 4 after an employee tested positive. That closure caused dozens of flight delays and cancellations to ripple through airports across the state.
Palm Beach International Airport said delays were expected as a result of the closure. The airport’s website showed four flights are delayed and one was cancelled.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s website showed 28 delayed flights, though it’s unclear how many of those delays are a result of the JAX FAA Center closure. No flights were cancelled as of 5:45 p.m.
Arlene Satchell, spokeswoman for the airport, said flight officials anticipate flight delays, but it’s too early to say to what extent. In the mean time, travelers should check with their airline for the latest flight status before heading to the airport, she said.
Miami International Airport’s website showed four cancelled flights and no cancellations.
The FAA’s large radar center in Jacksonville handles air traffic over parts of Alabama, Georgia and Florida, plus North and South Carolina.
Every facility has a contingency plan for temporary closures that was put in place before the coronavirus pandemic, said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman. COVID cleanings are usually scheduled overnight, and sometimes employees can work from a designated backup facility, he said.
It’s unclear why that was not what happened Wednesday, or on Jan. 4 during the first unexpected closure.