Air Traffic Controllers Union VP: Flying ‘Is Less Safe Today’ Than A Month Ago

WARRENTON, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 16: Traffic Management Specialists monitor airline traffic at the Air Traffic Control System Command Center on Friday, November 16, 2018 in Warrenton, Virginia. The facility balances air traffic demand with system capacity in the National Airspace System and is a part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control system. (Photo by Pete Marovich For The Washington Post)
The Washington Post/The Washington Post

The executive president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said Wednesday that flying is less safe as a result of the record-breaking partial government shutdown, which is now in its 26th day.

“I would say it is less safe today than it was a month ago, absolutely,” Trish Gilbert told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview.

That adds comments from the unions representing pilots and flight attendants about the additional pressure on their members as a result of the shutdown. “I would implore Leader McConnell to bring this to the floor and get these agencies back up and running,” the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants said earlier this month.

Gilbert told CNN Wednesday that “the system is disrupted and the people need to be focused on the job that they’re paid to do.”

“Unfortunately they’re not getting paid to do it right now,” she continued. “They need 100 percent focus. They need not to be fatigued. They need not to be worried about whether they’re going to have to sell their house, whether they’re going to have to leave this profession all together.”

NATCA recently unsuccessfully sued the government in an attempt to avoid members being forced to work without pay, as is currently the case. A regional NATCA vice president, Eddie DeLisle, told Hill.TV Tuesday that “there won’t be controllers left” if the shutdown drags on for several months.

Asked about flight safety, Gilbert said Wednesday: “We do not have the professionals on the job. We are working with bare bones crews. We have controllers there doing what they do very, very well but how long can you expect them to do it without the all of the systems behind them to keep the system safe, and the planes in the air?”

H/t The Hill

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