Just as the nation’s air traffic control system reached its breaking point on January 25th, President Trump was forced to sign a continuing resolution to provide funding through February 15th — halting the shutdown at day 35.
Had the shutdown stretched into its 36th day, the US airline transportation system may have been even more severely disrupted as numbers of air traffic controllers available for shifts dipped further.
The FAA is experiencing a 30-year low in air traffic controller staffing as the skies have become more crowded than ever. Just one air traffic controller is often responsible for up to 35 flights at one time. CNN recently reported how severely airline traffic was crippled when just 10 controller positions went unstaffed.
Too Much At Risk
Unfortunately, there could still be more shutdown ahead on February 16th if Congress does not take measures to end the threat.
At this point, numerous agencies and federal flight safety programs that were forced to close during the shutdown have still not reopened and many financially-stressed federal workers have still not received their paychecks.
But that’s only the beginning —
If the shutdown restarts and pushes into day 36 and beyond, here’s what could happen:
- Personnel shortages could result in ATC ground stops at major airports.
- FAA aircraft certifications may be interrupted which could cause flight cancellations.
- Safety inspection delays may occur.
- More stress at TSA could again lead to long lines, a surge in absenteeism, and in the worst-case… security lapses.
- Airlines may proactively ground flights and start allowing passengers to cancel their reservations – decreasing revenue.
- Cargo flights may cancel as well, delaying important deliveries such as prescription drugs.
What might unfold after that? Well, we’ve seen this type of scenario play out before following the events of September 11th.
Far Reaching Effects
After 9/11, the US economy and airline industry took a major hit and no one felt it more than airline employees when management looked for ways to manage the losses. Not only were workers dealing with the trauma of the terrorist attack and the loss of coworkers, the effects were compounded by furloughs and severe cuts to workrules, pay, and benefits.
What Can People Do?
Making calls and even using text-bots makes a difference and allows you to put your power to work!
The United States Capitol Switchboard will connect you to your representatives. 202-224-3121
- Text RESIST to 50409 from your cell phone
- Choose how you want to communicate with your congressional representative
- The text-bot will ask for the information it needs to send letters, faxes, and emails on your behalf
Ideas of what to say, text, or email:
- Congress should not allow the country to be thrown into chaos by allowing a lockout of federal workers to happen ever again.
- I feel travelers are less safe than prior to the shutdown and we cannot allow the shutdown to continue into Day 36.
- A continued shutdown would not only affect our safety but will also impact the economy and even my job.