FAA and TSA breathe a sigh of relief but more US shutdown pain is possible

28 January 2019
President Donald Trump, pictured here on 25 January, brought a temporary end to the longest government shutdown in US history, which caused major disruption to commercial air transport operations in the country. Source: Getty Images

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees will be paid for the first time since President Donald Trump temporarily ended the longest federal government shutdown in history.

Air traffic controllers, security screeners, and other essential staff were affected by a dispute between Trump and his Democrat opponents in Congress, stemming from his plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

The shutdown began on 22 December 2018. On 25 January e President agreed to reopen the federal government, but only for a three-week period – so further shutdowns are possible.

The effect of the shutdown on the US civil aviation sector was palpable, as staff shortages in en-route control centres and airport security checkpoints led to flight delays and longer waiting times for passengers.

Several major airports – such as Miami, Houston George Bush Intercontinental, and Baltimore/Washington – announced checkpoint closures as a result of what are commonly referred to as ‘sick outs’, in which more personnel than usual are absent citing illness.

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