Airline safety at risk as government shutdown continues

“As union leaders, we find it unconscionable that aviation professionals are being asked to work without pay and in an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day."

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Image Credit: @NATCA/Twitter

While the government shutdown continues as Donald Trump demands for billions to fund a border wall, there is mounting speculation that the Transportation Security Administration might go on strike.

The shutdown has created a financial toll in which “safety inspectors and federal cyber security staff are not back on the job at pre-shutdown levels, and those not on furlough are working without pay.”

“We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown,” presidents of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) said in a joint statement on Wednesday. “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.”

As the 33 day of the government came to an end, the joint statement confirmed that “there are no options to keep these professionals at work without a paycheck when they can no longer afford to support their families.”

“Due to the shutdown, air traffic controllers, transportation security officers, safety inspectors, air marshals, federal law enforcement officers, FBI agents, and many other critical workers have been working without pay for over 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.”

Major airports have already seen checkpoint closures with many more to come. The joint statement also claimed that they’re “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.”

“As union leaders, we find it unconscionable that aviation professionals are being asked to work without pay and in an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day. To avoid disruption to our aviation system, we urge Congress and the White House to take all necessary steps to end this shutdown immediately. “

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