The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), the largest pilots’ union in the United States, is urging President Donald Trump to take steps to immediately end the partial government shutdown “that is adversely affecting the safety, security and efficiency of our National Airspace System.”
The shutdown began Dec. 22, with the president and Congress unable to agree on legislation authorizing further funding for a number of federal agencies. Trump wants the legislation to include $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico; Democrats, joined by some Republicans, oppose provisions for the wall.
The Department of Transportation, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Homeland Security are among the affected agencies.
“When any of their responsibilities are placed on pause due to a shutdown, there are safety, security and efficiency gaps that immediately emerge,” ALPA President Capt. Joe DePete said in a letter to Trump last week.
“For example, at the … FAA, there are fewer safety inspectors than are needed in order to ensure the air traffic control infrastructure is performing at its peak levels of performance. There are also airline and aircraft manufacturing oversight activities that either stop or are significantly reduced. These safety and oversight inspections will potentially allow for the introduction of safety issues that put passengers and airline crews at risk.”
The letter added that air traffic controllers, airspace system maintenance personnel and airline passenger security personnel are working without pay and under “increasingly difficult financial pressures.”