Aviation Groups Warn of ‘Total Disruption’ During Government Shutdown

By Anna Breuer on 24 January 2019
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Unions representing air traffic controllers, airline pilots, and flight attendants said that the partial government shutdown is causing an “unprecedented” and “unconscionable” safety threat to the skies.

The joint statement, issued by three unions representing over 130,000 aviation professionals, also said that the threat to safety is growing as the shutdown continues with no end in sight.

“We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines and the traveling public due to the government shutdown,” the unions’ joint statement said. “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.”

The groups noted that multiple major airports had already faced the closure of security checkpoint; staffing in air traffic control facilities is at a 30-year low; and expressed concerns that analyses of safety-reporting data, used to reduce risks and prevent accidents, is not 100% operational as a result of reduced Federal Aviation Administration resources.

Those workers who have been ordered to report to their jobs just missed their second paycheck and many are unable to support themselves and their families without being paid. The absentee rate at airport security checkpoints manned by the Transportation Safety Administration is over 10% and increasing steadily.

“Air safety,” the joint statement said, is “deteriorating by the day.”

To avoid total disruption of the nation’s aviation system, the three union leaders – Paul Rinaldi of the National Air Controllers Association union, Joe DePete of the Air Line Pilots Association, and Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA – said that Congress and the president need “to take all necessary steps to end this shutdown immediately.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)a

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