TPA flights again delayed after Jacksonville air traffic control closed for COVID-19 cleaning

The temporary closure of an air traffic control center in Jacksonville led to flight delays across Florida Wednesday night, including at Tampa International Airport

The closure comes after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. It had some passengers at TPA stuck waiting hours. 

"I've been sitting here for two and a half hours now and still haven't even hit the midway point of my wait so I am kind of frustrated at this point," traveler Tyler Wenzel said.

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Wenzel, who's in town visiting family south of Sarasota, didn't learn about the delay for his flight to Philadelphia until after getting to the airport. He, along with several others, was forced to wait more than four hours before taking off. 

"It is rare for this to happen. COVID complicates things. What happens is it affects the whole air space so the air space that that tower controls- they can't have planes coming in and out and it," Nipps said.

Wednesday, Jacksonville International Airport announced the closure in a tweet.

The facility covers flights from the panhandle to Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa as well as flights in Southeast Georgia and South Carolina. The closure comes after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to the FAA, the closure lasted from 4:20 - 6:30 p.m. to deep clean the facility.

"It will most likely impact quite a few flights tonight and possibly even into the morning so I would say any passengers that are flying this evening or even tomorrow morning should just double check before they come to the airport," Nipps said.

Just last week, the tower was temporarily closed for the same reason.

"I get it. It is tough, but I think they are making the right decision," Wenzel said.


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