The government shutdown is preventing thousands of TSA employees and air traffic controllers nationwide from receiving a paycheck, which concerns officials at the San Luis Obispo County Airport.
“If you’re not getting paid, you don’t have the money to put the gas in the car to actually get to work,” said SLO Airport Deputy Director Craig Piper. “So we’re hoping the government will come to a resolution and get this corrected as soon as possible.”
Two weeks into the government shutdown, operations are still running smoothly at the San Luis Obispo airport but Piper knows that could all change in flash.
“We’re concerned about it and the longer it goes, if people don’t come into work because they’re not getting paid, that has an impact on passengers,” Piper said.
TSA staff at the SLO Airport are currently working unpaid; however, the air traffic controllers in San Luis Obispo are some of the few in the country still receiving a paycheck amid the government shutdown.
“As a smaller airport, our tower is not staffed by FAA personnel,” Piper said. “Air traffic controllers are employed by a company that contracts for that service to the FAA.”
Piper said the air traffic controllers are being paid by their employer but that employer is taking the temporary loss and awaiting reimbursement from the government.
That means staff controlling the flow of air traffic at San Luis Obispo Airport is being paid, Piper said, but their counterparts controlling the flow of passengers are not.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association posted a video on its website urging the nation’s leader to end the shutdown for the sake of its employees who are largely not receiving a paycheck.
The video states, “Nearly 20,000 essential aviation safety professionals represented by NATCA manages airspace and ensures safety of flying public. Every day the government is shut down, it weakens our aviation system.”
Meanwhile, union representatives for TSA say many officers are calling in sick to protest.
Piper, along with national aviation officials, have encouraged passengers to show up early for their flights in case of disruptions caused by the shutdown.