As the government shutdown continues, there are growing concerns among airport officials over the safety and security of its members, airlines, and the public.
Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association; Joe DePete president of the Association of Flight Attendants; and Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants released the following statement regarding airport security:
“This is already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States and there is no end in sight. In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”
The statement says that due to the shutdown, air traffic controllers, transportation security officers, air marshals, FBI agents, and other critical employees have been working without pay for more than a month.
“Staffing in our air traffic control facilities is already at a 30-year low and controllers are only able to maintain the system’s efficiency and capacity by working overtime, including 10-hour days and 6-day workweeks at many of our nation’s busiest facilities.”
In addition to security concerns, the shutdown has caused the Federal Aviation Administration to halt both hiring and its training academy, which means there are no plans to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.
“The situation is changing at a rapid pace. Major airports are already seeing security checkpoint closures, with many more potentially to follow. Safety inspectors and federal cybersecurity staff are not back on the job at pre-shutdown levels, and those not on furlough are working without pay.”
Just recently, a Miami Transportation Security Administration employee said the government shutdown has made securing airports even more difficult and believes that if nothing changes, the shutdown will have grave consequences.
“The system is severely compromised and we can’t accomplish our mission,” Herbert Graces, who works at Miami International Airport told NBC 6. “I cannot, on a clear conscience, process the bags and the passengers knowing I could be sending them to their deaths.”
“Personally, I won’t be flying, and that would be my recommendation to anybody, domestic or international travel,” Graces told the media outlet,