Threats to Airline Safety ‘Growing by the Day’ as Shutdown Drags On
Air travel, with its cramped seats, delays and long security lines, was already stressful before the government shutdown. It has only become worse for airline workers and travelers alike, as the Transportation Security Administration is hit by the partial government shutdown, now entering its second month. Employees are about to miss their second paycheck, and as one TSA officer told CNBC on Wednesday, “The rent is not going to happen.”
TSA workers and even executives at major airlines have sounded the alarm on the need for a resolution. “The longer this goes on, the longer it will take for the nation’s air travel infrastructure to rebound,” Robin Hayes, the chief executive officer of Jet Blue, said on a conference call with analysts and investors, according to Bloomberg.
According to the New York Times, “as many as one of every 10 transportation security officers is not showing up for work and reserve workers are being flown in to bolster depleted ranks at some airports.”
Now, union leaders representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants who represent more than 130,000 employees have issued what The Times calls a “dire warning” about the “safety threat that is growing by the day.”
The joint statement from Paul Rinaldi of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Joe DePete of the Air Line Pilots Association and Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants addressed concerns about closed security checkpoints, a lack of safety inspectors and impediments to reporting safety data.
“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 leaders wrote, adding, “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.”
Equally worrying for nervous fliers is the impact the shutdown has on safety reporting. The leaders write that “we are not confident that system-wide analyses of safety reporting data, which is used to identify and implement corrective actions in order to reduce risks and prevent accidents is 100 percent operational due to reduced FAA resources.”
They add that “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.”
Read the full statement here.Wait, before you go…
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