MIAMI — The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), together with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) have both issued a public letter to the US Government asking to end the current shutdown.

The APFA is the largest independent Flight Attendant Union, representing solely the Flight Attendants of American Airlines.

The shutdown hasn’t been felt in the commercial aviation arena, yet. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees who have been working at the country’s airports, regardless of the shutdown, would expect to receive their first paycheck of the year on Friday. However, because of the shutdown, this is not going to happen.

The TSA admits that hundreds of its employees are calling in sick and not showing up to work. Longer lines have been reported at numerous airports.

Large queues for security screening at Denver International Airport • Photo: Greg O’Beirne

Although the shut down is in full motion now, millions of travelers continue to fly through the nation’s airports.

A TSA spokesman noted that all security checkpoints at every airport “are just as effective as ever,” with queue times within their standards.

However, analysts say that stress, fatigue, and the lack of a paycheck may be a substantial cause for concern.

On top of this, Border Protection (CBP) officers have sued the Trump administration over missed payments during the shutdown.

The suit justifies that more than 400,000 federal employees, including thousands of CBP officers, are being forced to work without pay.

Moreover, FAA safety inspectors are being called back to work on a case-by-case basis, putting a priority on inspecting airline fleets, said an FAA Spokesman.

Delta Air Lines is expected to introduce its Airbus A220 into service on January 31 from New York-LaGuardia to Boston and Dallas/Ft. Worth. However, the lack of inspectors to certify the airline’s proving and training runs might delay the entry into service of Delta’s newest jet.

As far as Air Traffic Control is concerned, about 10,000 controllers have been asked to show up to work as they’re deemed “essential” to keeping the country’s skies in order.

The collective action alleges that more than 400,000 federal employees — including tens of thousands of NTEU members — are being forced to work without pay during the partial government closure.

The APFA/AFA Letter To The Government

Dear Mr. President, Madam Speaker, and Leader McConnell:

Flight Attendants across the industry ask you to end the shutdown now. This is a matter of safety, security, and economic concern.

We serve as the last line of defense in aviation security. On September 11, 2001, we lost our friends and colleagues while our profession changed forever.

Security is a layered approach and those of us on the front lines count on the full operation of DHS, CBP, TSA, DOT, and FAA to conduct full cybersecurity work, hands-on security inspection, assessment of individuals at all points of entry to our country and airspace, regular inspection of our safety procedures, and continued training and certification for workforce and infrastructure.

Our members and the traveling public are flying within a system that is less safe and secure as long as the shutdown continues.

We know all too well the economic hardship that can result from any loophole in our security and any means for inflicting harm by those who view the United States and its citizens as the enemy.

Our industry contributes over five percent to our nation’s GDP and supports 11 million jobs. As the shutdown continues the entire industry will begin to unravel. Airlines cannot receive delivery of aircraft causing route cancellations, attrition of air traffic controllers reduces the flow of aircraft in the air, and as transportation security officers reduce in numbers we will experience long, slowed security lines.

Communities will lose service and as capacity is cut many across the industry, including Flight Attendants, could experience job loss.

Our country relies heavily on the full capacity of our airline industry and the government workforce that makes it run.

We are in awe of the transportation security officers, air traffic controllers, and other workers deemed as essential employees for their patriotism in coming to work without the certainty of a paycheck or any resolution to this shutdown.

Even in private bankruptcies where workers suffer economic cuts, the first-day order of business is court approval to continue the payroll because it is understood the business cannot run if the workforce cannot count on a paycheck.

The longer this shutdown continues, the more likely it is that workers will be forced to find other means to care for their families. Even before that, we need these frontline safety and security personnel to be wholly focused on their mission, rather than the stress of uncertainty in providing for their families.

End this shutdown. Do not put Flight Attendants, other aviation workers, and the traveling public at risk any longer. Border security is an important issue and it deserves a fulsome solution.

Please return our government to full capacity now, and continue your discussions once that is done. We cannot sacrifice critical safety, security, and economic stability in the airline industry as another area of national security is discussed.

Written by:
Lori Bassani / National President, APFA
Sara Nelson / International President, AFA