United States aviation system is starting to show strains from shutdown

Ivan Schwartz
January 12, 2019

There are more than two dozen TSA employees at the Ellis Airport in Onslow County, and while they're all still at work, the airport director said they could begin to experience more effects if the shutdown does not end soon.

Airport screeners start around $24,000 and most earn between $26,000 and $35,000 a year, according to TSA.

Even before the shutdown, controllers have been working six-day weeks and 10-hour days at numerous country's busiest airports, NACTA's president Paul Rinaldi said, adding: "This staffing crisis is negatively affecting the National Airspace System, and the shutdown nearly certainly will make a bad situation worse".

Employees with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) walk through Reagan National Airport in Washington.

Chin said Terminal G will close at 1pm Saturday, reopen for flights Sunday morning and close again at 1pm that day. "We are, though, very much monitoring checkpoints, and we're in close contact with the federal authorities and the airlines", said Cynthia Vega, a spokeswoman for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

About 10,000 air traffic controllers under the Federal Aviation Administration continue to work without pay. Union employees from the American Federation of Government Employees District 7 rallied outside the McNamara federal building Thursday. "If the staffing shortage gets worse, we will see reduced capacity in the National Airspace System, meaning more flight delays", Rinaldi said.

"Our inspectors are the oversight, they are the regulatory side of the house for the FAA", said Mike Perrone, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union.

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The stress is already taking a toll at some airports.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele said day-to-day operations at the agency are not affected, but it is not getting federal grant funding to pay for ongoing expenses for construction projects.

Lines at the nation's airports have been normal, Bilello said. 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.

Then over the weekend, travelers reported longer checkpoint lines at some airports, including LaGuardia in NY.

Thousands of TSA employees did not receive a paycheck Friday as a result of the government shutdown.

Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, which represents 32 unions that cover transportation workers, said he thinks the nation's transportation system is now safe and would not recommend that people avoid flying.

Other reports by GizPress

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