KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Air Traffic Controllers Association was at Kansas City International Airport Thursday, handing out pamphlets about how the partial government shutdown affects their members.
“This past week we didn’t get a paycheck. We should have gotten paid on Jan. 15, and it was a big zero,” regional NATCA spokesman Aaron Merrick said.
NATCA recently started its pamphlet campaign at major airports nationwide.
The shutdown impacts air traffic controllers and aviation professionals. It means no hiring, training or maintenance updates, as well as staffing shortages, according to NATCA.
“We have roughly 25 controllers and engineers and architects that live in the Kansas City area that are out here either because they’re on furlough or because they’re on their day off, trying to get this message out to the flying public,” Merrick said.
Around 3,000 NATCA-represented Federal Aviation Administration employees are furloughed.
Flyers at KCI expressed concern about safety risks due to the situation.
“I feel so bad for them. I know they’re required to come to work and do their job, but when you’ve got a lot of stress outside of the job and a stressful day job anyway, it’s concerning," Kansas City resident Janet Plattner said. "It’s a concern for safety."
Others are wondering how the shutdown will affect operations at the airport.
“Obviously the air traffic controllers have a great deal to do with safety, and of course TSA folks, if they’re not all here, it’s just going to be longer lines and take more time,” frequent flyer Eric Wilson said.
NATCA is urging Congress to end the government shutdown.
“We’re starting to see on the horizon the potential for air traffic controllers perhaps to not be able to make it into work because they can’t pay for childcare, they literally can't put gas in their vehicle to drive to work,” Merrick said.
NATCA said the shutdown is affecting 12 million aviation-related jobs.