Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

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

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

The lawsuit is at least the third filed by a union on behalf of federal employees who have not been paid during the shutdown, which began December 22.

"There has been no degradation in security effectiveness and average wait times are well within TSA standards", Transportation Security Administration spokesman Michael Bilello said.

While air traffic control operations by the Federal Aviation Administration and airport screenings by the Transportation Security Administration have continued during the funding lapse, that work is being done by federal employees who are not getting paid.

"I can't make rent", she said.

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Controllers and other federal employees were due to receive their checks for the first pay period of 2019 on Friday, the day the lawsuit (PDF) was filed.

Employees posted pictures of the pay statements on Twitter and vented their frustration as the standoff over President Donald Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall entered its 21st day.

Roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. That's raising concerns that TSA will see even more employees calling in sick and dropping shifts as they pursue other options for income if the shutdown continues.

As the government shutdown continues to stretch on, Pittsburgh International Airport has chose to provide an act of kindness to the TSA agents working without pay right now.

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Controllers across the country started seeing pay stubs on Thursday showing that they are receiving no pay for their work guiding planes to airports nationwide.

Willis said that the shutdown also is affecting transit and commuter rail, with grants being suspended to transit agencies. While furloughed federal workers have been given back pay in previous shutdowns, there is no guarantee that will happen this time.

Even before the shutdown, controllers have been working six-day weeks and 10-hour days at numerous country's busiest airports, NACTA's president Paul Rinaldi said, adding: "This staffing crisis is negatively affecting the National Airspace System, and the shutdown nearly certainly will make a bad situation worse".

Miami International spokesman Greg Chin said the airport has had TSA workers call in sick at twice the usual rate, and TSA managers were unsure whether they would have enough staff to operate the airport's 11 checkpoints during normal operating hours. On Thursday, 99.9 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes, Bilello said.

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Security lines at Logan Airport aren't being impacted by the shutdown and passengers seem to be sympathetic to those still working with a smile. "We're kind of out in uncharted water here".

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