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USA air travel concerns surface as gov't shutdown drags on

12 January 2019
USA air travel concerns surface as gov't shutdown drags on

Longer lines will alienate travelers and could push more airports to replace government employees with privately contracted screening agents.

The partial shutdown of the USA government could have serious consequences for air safety, according to unions representing aviation workers, which are calling for an immediate resolution to the budgetary stalemate.

"I get nervous on flights and having them there really makes there makes me feel more comfortable", said Kyle Gorman.

The security screeners and controllers are among workers declared essential to security and safety and have been ordered to work without pay.

About 10,000 air traffic controllers under the Federal Aviation Administration continue to work without pay.

Those workers on Friday will get their first $0.00 pay stub, stoking worries that the situation could soon become untenable.

The lawsuit filed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union charges that Trump, the Federal Aviation Administration and other US officials are violating workers' constitutional rights by "depriving them of their hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process".

According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), more than 50,000 TSA officers and staff will most likely miss another paycheck during this shutdown. That is far less than many other government employees, making them more vulnerable if they don't get paid. The agency is focusing on ensuring its resources are devoted to ensure that the system remains safe, it said in a statement. A almost equal number of federal workers are not deemed "essential" and have been placed on temporary leave, and their absence is affecting some functions ranging from FAA inspections of aircraft to CBP interviews with applicants for Global Entry status. Airports in San Francisco and Kansas City already do that, with approval from the Transportation Department.

They say they're not taking a position on the stalemate, the President, Congress, the budget, the wall.

Some speaking out are TSA Agents working at Metro Airport where this round table was held.

Bilello said on Twitter that the TSA is working with "stakeholders and industry partners to explore efforts to consolidate officers and operations".

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport organized a resource fair to bring together credit unions, utility representatives and nonprofit organizations to help federal employees access short term loans and assistance programs, said spokesman Perry Cooper.

About 51,000 TSA agents are part of the 800,000 government employees who have either been furloughed or required to work without pay, and will miss this week's Friday paycheck.