Air traffic controllers union urges president & congress to end shutdown before airline system breaks down

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Union leaders representing pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers just released a statement pleading for Congress to end the shutdown now.

Air traffic controllers have worked more than a month without pay – and union leaders fear a mass exodus will put travelers at risk and cripple the airline industry.

This past week, around ten percent of all TSA workers have called in sick – many looking for other jobs to help pay the bills, bills not getting paid since they haven’t received a paycheck since December.

While TSA says wait times are within the normal limit of 30 minutes, some airports are seeing longer lines and some security check lines are closed due to a lack of staffing.

The bigger concern is air traffic controllers – the people in charge of making sure your plane takes off and lands safely. Union officials say staffing is at a 30-year low with many being overworked, clocking in 10 hour days while working six days a week. Not only that, but a lot of the equipment they use is breaking down and not getting fixed due to the government shutdown.

In a joint statement between the pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers, they said, “We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public…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.”

The FAA’s response so far has been that, “Safety is the top priority…We are allocating resources based on risk assessment to meet all safety critical functions.”

FAA officials told USA Today despite the shutdown, there hasn’t been any difference in performance at airports compared to the same period over the past two years.

Since airline workers are considered essential, they will continue to work without pay until the shutdown can end.

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