Air traffic controllers and other airline employees released an ominous joint statement warning the public about “a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown.” The statement comes from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) President Joe DePete, and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) President Sara Nelson.
According to the statement, there was already a critical staffing shortage in our nation’s airports, with air traffic control facilities suffering 30-year staffing lows. “[C]ontrollers 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.”
Welp.— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) January 24, 2019
"An air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day..."
"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."https://t.co/GHoGKX08g1
Air traffic controllers already faced a high-stress job with a ton of responsibility. Now, these individuals are not being paid, and the worst part is that 20 percent of them are eligible to retire right now. If they decide to retire rather than continue to come to work without pay, “the National Airspace System (NAS) will be crippled.”
Experts and airport employees have been warning the public about this threat for weeks already. With the government shutdown already 12 days longer than the previous longest shutdown, the consequences are difficult to predict – but they are expected to be dire.
“Last Saturday, TSA management announced that a growing number of officers cannot come to work due to the financial toll of the shutdown. In addition, 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.”
Translation: If you don’t absolutely have to fly right now, don’t.
The statement ends by urging Congress to re-open the government immediately, especially since they cannot keep expecting airport workers to continue showing up to work without pay. On the same day that this statement was released, Mitch McConnell blocked a bill to re-open most of the government for the fourth time. Lara Trump, meanwhile, said that the shutdown has inflicted a “little bit of pain” upon government workers. You know what hurts a lot? Being in an airplane crash.
Meanwhile, the Democrats attempted a compromise by offering the full $5.7 billion for border security as long as it’s not used on any new structures, including a big pointless racism wall. In response, Trump said that the shutdown could continue to drag on for “a while.”
America is not happy.
Even if 2 planes crashed into one another due to staffing shortages, Trump wouldn't care. He would just say that it wouldn't have happened if he just was given his wall in the first place. How many people have to die before they end the #TrumpShutDown?— 🌊🏳️🌈ᴀʟᴛ ᴅᴇᴀᴅᴩᴏᴏʟ🏳️🌈🌊 (@angelina_n_ris) January 24, 2019
My husband is a pilot for a major national airline. I’ve never been worried about his safety; he trusts air traffic control with his life, so I trust them, as well. Now, I secretly pray every time I send him to work, but try not to burden him my fears. This is crazy!— Cathy Bugglesworth (@CBugglesworth) January 24, 2019
When the planes start falling out of the sky, will we be at "high crimes and misdemeanors" yet? Get him out now!— MREHaller (@MREHaller) January 24, 2019
Good thing there aren't any bad people out there who might want to use airplanes to do bad things. Yikes!— Rob De Haan (@robdehaan) January 24, 2019
For the good of th country, both TSA and ATCs should go on strike. I say strike, what is more accurate is to say 'refuse slavery'.— Break like the wind... (@paulshelb) January 24, 2019
This will end badly for innocent people and @realDonaldTrump will still keep the government closed. He only cares about himself and what makes this even worse his supporters are still with him. They will die for him.— matthew schofield (@matthewschofiel) January 24, 2019
We are near the breaking point and Trump is focused on giving a speech. We are at the point where we have to assume Trump is purposely trying to weaken America. https://t.co/J6FUuFaT6n— Christopher Bouzy (@cbouzy) January 24, 2019
Yes, this is exactly what I have been saying. Air traffic controllers have one of the most stressful jobs out there. They should not be expected to work without pay. End the #TrumpShutdown. https://t.co/tD8JaacRpx— Christina Mellott (@catttaylor) January 24, 2019
Not enough that this WH exposes the 800k federal employees and their families to considerable financial risk. The security of our nation, including our airspace, travelers and air crews, is now at stake too!— David (@DavidJJenni) January 24, 2019
And all this to “protect or southern border”? 😢🤦♀️#EndTrumpShutdown https://t.co/3YVJBD2nPI
I share this concern. My son-in-law is a pilot for one of the country;s major airlines. Normal air traffic is bad enough between drones & laser beams. Who though the potus would be a major threat to our own airline professionals. https://t.co/zi8bA2ZEG9— Rusty Fairbanks (@RustyFairbanks) January 24, 2019
Keep your feet on the ground, everybody.