US Government Shutdown Affecting Travel, Aviation
The partial government shutdown stretched into its third week, the ripple effect on the aviation industry is surfacing in areas like ferry flights and air traffic control. in this blog, we will try to list how could it affect your next flight to/in the US.
As you may already know a number of federal agencies shut down on December 22, Homeland Security and Commerce, the Department of Transportation and nearly 18,000 FAA workers involved in wide range of activities are on furlough, with others now facing the prospect of working without compensation until the reopening of the government.
“While the US airspace is fully safe and operational, technicians and air traffic controllers continue to work without pay as they fill a critical mission to ensure the public’s safety.” Quoted from the FAA’s spokesman Mr. Gregory Martin
Other FAA activities have been reduced, including training for air traffic controllers and accident investigation, the Federal Aviation Agency closed its training academy in Oklahoma during this partial shutdown.
A reduce capacity in the airspace system is expected to lead to more flight delays due to a shortage in air traffic controller staffing according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Mr. Paul Rinaldi “Even before the shutdown, controllers have needed to work longer and harder to make up for the staffing shortfall.”
Operators facing difficulties in obtaining ferry and special flight permits
Operators have encountered issues obtaining ferry permits and/or special flight permits, the association said, adding this has affected both domestic and international-bound flights.
NATA said it is trying to clarify whether designated airworthiness representatives (DAR) could facilitate permissions for certain things, such as ferrying permits, without FAA approval. But the furlough has affected the agency’s DAR oversight, making it unclear whether they can take these steps. “Things with DARs are very convoluted and confusing,” the association noted, saying it is working with the FAA to try to address the issue.
NBAA, meanwhile, is hearing similar concerns, as well as concerns about the halting of FAA knowledge testing and check rides. This is creating scheduling issues and delays for certain organizations, the association said. Another complaint that has surfaced involves the ability to obtain decals from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. But CBP is accepting receipts that show a decal has been ordered.
Airport screening continues, but some screeners have called in sick
According to CNN reporters Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace, hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers have called in sick from work this week from at least four major airports.
Marsh and Wallace spoke with two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials about the sick-outs.
“This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect,” Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, told CNN.
TSA spokesman Michael Bilello told CNN “The agency is monitoring the situation as 99.8% of the more than 2.2 million passengers screened by the TSA on Thursday waited less than 30 minutes, while wait times may be affected depending on the number of sick-outs, but so far wait times “remain well within TSA standards.”
Visas and Passport will continue being processed
The Bureau of Consular Affairs said that “Scheduled passport and visa services in the United States and at US Embassies and Consulates overseas will continue during the lapse in appropriations as the situation permits.”
Domestic passport agencies located in government buildings affected by a lapse in appropriations may be closed to the public, a US State Department official said.
Calls and inquiries will still be accepted by the National Visa Center, National Passport Information Center and Kentucky Consular Center, the Bureau of Consular Affairs advisory said.
The bureau’s website will not be updated, with the exception of urgent security information, the advisory said.
Our US operations base will keep you posted with the situation in further blog updates. If you require any help in your flight in/to the US our team is always ready to help [email protected] / [email protected]