The US government has come to an agreement to halt the shutdown and allow federal employees to be paid for the next three weeks. This means that air traffic controllers, federal air marsuales and TSA personnel will all be paid.
However, this respite does not reach the estimated two million contractors who are waiting to be paid for contracted work, such as maintaining critical air facilities. This will have to wait until the government fully resolves it’s shutdown situation.
What are the details?
Naturally, this topic is rather complicated and very political, so Simple Flying will skirt around the issue and say that it seems for now, that both sides of the US political divide have come together to halt the US shutdown.
This shut down was causing plenty of problems, such as preventing the payment of up to 900,000 government employees (but not the payment of the government leaders in congress and the white house, they got by just fine). These employees include many in the aviation industry, such as TSA officials, Air Traffic Controllers, Federal Agents (such as Air Marshalls) and many more.
READ: White House announces President Trump has signed bill to end shutdown https://t.co/BQBUYNKqU8
— CNN (@CNN) January 26, 2019
Additionally, the government shutdown has also caused the FAA themselves to be shut down. Without this government agency, airlines have not been able to get authorization to run new routes (like the new Southwest to Hawaii route) or buy new planes (Like Delta buying the new A220) and many more problems.
Safety has also become an issue. Many different unions have pointed out that essential air traffic services, such as flight coordination, radar, scheduling, and routing are being performed by unpaid workers. Workers who can’t afford to eat, pay rent and more, are being trusted with thousands of lives. And if these workers quit the job (due to not being paid) they would be unreplaceable, the school that they are trained is itself shut down.
Critical equipment that airlines use every day to perform the most basic of routes, such as radar and radio towers, have gone without maintenance during the last few weeks. Without authorization from the government, these ground crew teams cannot perform their jobs.
Now that the government has come to an agreement to halt the shutdown, millions of dollars will be paid out to all the employees. This includes back pay for the shutdown period and bonuses if the employees were expecting them over Christmas.
As we mentioned, this is simply a ‘halt’ to the shutdown. In three weeks the agreement ends and its very possible that the whole situation will reverse back to what we have known for the last few weeks. Whilst we hope that both sides of the US political spectrum can come together to solve this issue, there is a real chance that the shutdown will linger a while longer yet.
What do you think? Is this good for the aviation industry?