San Diego

Air Traffic Controllers Warn Airport Travelers of Shutdown's Effect on Aviation Safety

Air traffic controllers working without pay as the government shutdown stretched into its 28th day handed out flyers to travelers on Friday, sharing the "negative consequences" the shutdown has on aviation safety.

"Every day the shutdown continues the negative consequences to the [National Airspace System] and its employees are compounding," a portion of the pamphlet read.

The federal aviation employees, represented by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), passed out the leaflets at San Diego International Airport on Friday.

Air traffic controllers have been doing the same at the Los Angeles International, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Raleigh-Durham airports, among several others, according to the group.

"Morale is OK," air traffic controller Chris Powel said. "It's getting worse all the time."

Powell has worked at the airport of six years and described as his "home away from home." 

The FAA’s air traffic controllers are among the 420,000 federal employees who have been deemed essential and ordered to work without pay.

The shutdown began on Dec. 22 after President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress could not agree over funding for a wall along the U.S. southern border.

"I think people are going to start to make very hard choices about how much they love their career and professional versus how much they need to pay the rent," Powell said.

NATCA filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration last Friday on behalf of their members over their frozen pay. The suit alleges the government "unlawfully deprived" thousands of its members of pay "without due process."

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