Air travel fears up amid USA govt shutdown

Marco Green
January 12, 2019

On Thursday, TSA employees demonstrated against the government shutdown outside Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The partial shutdown of the United States government could have serious consequences for air safety, according to unions representing aviation workers, which are calling for an immediate resolution to the budgetary stalemate.

As "essential" federal employees, TSA agents have been showing up for work without payment for almost a month at one of the lowest paying and most thankless jobs in the airport industry, according to Money.

Other federal employees' unions already have filed a lawsuit over the shutdown, including the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees, according to The Hill. "If this keeps up there are problems that will arise - least of which would be increased wait times for travelers".

"There has been no degradation in security effectiveness and average wait times are well within TSA standards", he said.

"The loss of officers, while we're already shorthanded, will create a massive security risk for American travelers since we don't have enough trainees in the pipeline or the ability to process new hires", Thomas added.

"Yesterday, Jan 9, 2019, TSA experienced a rate of 5 per cent compared to a 3.6 per cent unscheduled absence rate one year ago on Jan 9, 2018", it said, lauding "the more than 51,000 officers across the country (who) remain focused on the mission". A statement on its website on Wednesday said 1.74 million passengers were screened across the day, and 99.9 percent had to wait 30 minutes or less. "If not for the shutdown, NATCA members would have begun to receive direct deposit of their pay into their accounts as of this morning".

"TSA officers are among the lowest paid federal employees, with many living paycheck-to-paycheck", Thompson wrote. And Delta Air Lines' plans to start flying its newest aircraft, the Airbus A220, by the end of this month could also be affected.

The suit came as federal workers received pay stubs Friday with nothing but zeroes on them as the effects of the government shutdown hit home, deepening anxieties about mortgage payments and unpaid bills.

If a significant number of controllers missed work, the Federal Aviation Administration could be forced to extend separation requirements, amount of time between takeoffs and landings, which could delay travel.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said controllers often must work overtime and six-day weeks at short-staffed locations.

Federal Aviation Administration Academy in Oklahoma City has been closed as a result of the shutdown and simulator trainings have been disrupted.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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