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How could the government shutdown affect air travel in the US?

A government shutdown will disrupt services across federal agencies. Here’s what it means for air travel and it’s nothing good.

FILE PHOTO: The One World trace Center and the New York skyline are seen while United Airlines planes use the tarmac at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo/File Photo

Congress has missed its deadline to pass legislation to keep the government funded. That willmean starting next week agencies across the federal government would begin to furlough hundreds of thousands of employees except those that are essential.

How could the government shutdown affect air travel in the US?

Included in those that would still be on the job are air traffic controllers and TSA agents responsible for keeping airports and skies safe. However, they will have to work without getting paid while the shutdown lasts, although they are guaranteed back pay once it’s over.

The White House is warning for that reason Americans who are planning on traveling by plane should prepare for turbulence. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there could be “significant” delays for travelers.

The last time the government shutdown beginning 22 December 2018, the percentage of air traffic controllers who called in sick was more than double the norm. Then on the 35th day of the longest-ever shutdown, ten air traffic controllers split between two locations didn’t show up for work and the system buckled.

Travel at New York City’s LaGuardia airport temporarily came to a halt and delays were caused at other major hubs as well as slowing traffic in some of the nation’s busiest airspace. That was the last day of the shutdown and was in part credited with ending it.

A majority of Americans not planning to travel if there’s a shutdown

Ipsos and US Travel released results from a survey conducted earlier this month in which six out of ten respondents said they avoid or cancel trips by air were the government to shut down. The vast majority of Americans polled felt that shutdowns negatively impact businesses that depend on air travel as well as the US economy in general.