WASHINGTON — A national pilots association is urging President Donald Trump “to take the necessary steps” to end the partial government shutdown, saying that the stalemate is “adversely affecting the safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system.”
In a letter sent to the President on January 2, Captain Joe DePete, the president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International said that he was writing “(on) behalf of the 61,000 pilots” that belong to to the association to address the issues caused by the shutdown, which is now in its 16th day.
“On behalf of the 61,000 pilots of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), I am writing to urge you to take the necessary steps to immediately end the shutdown of government agencies that is adversely affecting the safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system,” DePete wrote in the letter.
“The nation’s airspace system is a complex transportation network that involves government and industry partnerships to function properly, and the disruptions being caused by the shutdown are threatening the safe operations of this network,” the letter read.
It noted that when the work of officials at the Department of Transportation and Department of Homeland Security is “placed on pause due to a shutdown there are safety, security and efficiency gaps that immediately emerge.”
The letter said that due to the shutdown, there are fewer safety inspectors working at the Federal Aviation Administration, who are “needed in order to ensure the air traffic control infrastructure is performing at its peak levels of performance.”
CNN reported on Friday that hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without paychecks through the shutdown, called out from work last week from at least four major airports, according to two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials.
TSA spokesman Michael Bilello told CNN at the time that the agency is “closely monitoring the situation” and that “screening wait times remain well within TSA standards,” although that could change if the number of callouts increases.
According to a union official at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the shutdown is causing TSA officers to call out so they can “find another way to make money.” Another union official, however, said that while some employees are upset about the pay, officers have said they are calling in sick for more practical reasons. Single parents can no longer afford child care or they are finding cash-paying jobs outside of government work to pay their rent and other bills, for example.
In the letter, DePete wrote that “(the) pressure these civil servants are facing at home should not be ignored.”
“At some point, these dedicated federal employees will encounter personal financial damages that will take a long time from which to recover, if at all,” the letter read.