Data Shows Air Travel Safety Not Compromised During Shutdown

WSJ What's News


Government data shows air travel remain safe during the partial government shutdown although resources or becoming more strained joining me now via Skype from Chicago is Wall Street Journal reporter, Alison cider Allison. Tell us about this data you found that it does support. The president's statements that air traffic control remain safe, despite the partial government shutdown. Yes, what we found is a data shows that serious traffic control deviations. That's when planes are coming in dangerously close to one another in the air on the ground. You haven't really changed from year ago? Even though the government has been shut down for about a month now and air traffic controllers are working without pay. We also found that through actually a four percent drop over sort of a broad range of air, traffic, control, deviate, and that voluntary reports from pilots and controllers of safety incidents are actually down fourteen percents from a year ago. So I think that is somewhat reassuring to people who are concerned that airtrav. Might be less safe right now because so many people working aviation industry are federal workers who are working during the government shutdown that are not being paid. Right. And as you say, our traffic controllers have been coming to work without getting paid. But that is also raising concerns about whether they're feeling overworked or financially strained. What are you hearing from advocates? Yes, what we're hearing from controller set the stress levels have become quite alarming in these people haven't been paid. They're about to miss their second paycheck for a lot of people. That's a real financial strain. The job is already quite stressful. And now some of them are talking about having to take second jobs. We saw some survey data that their union conducted that indicated, you know, as many as fifty people respond to their surveys that they were taking on outside work. Some of those are even fulltime jobs. So in air, traffic controller might be working at Starbucks or driving for Uber, and then showing up in the evening to do their actual job. Which job that requires a lot of intense focus, so it's concerning to the union that people are are having to take on outside. Work. We're also hearing from the union on some this data were seeing on on air safety, and they've questioned the validity of some of the results on voluntary incident reporting saying that you know, the system is just not really functioning. So the pilots and air traffic controllers who would make a report after safety incidents aren't able to do it. So, you know, they've questioned kind of weather that metric what that really shows during a government shutdown, and they've said sort of everyday that the town continues the system as a whole becomes less safe. And what about new hiring? That's something. That's also been stalled amid the shutdown. Ryan, I'm yes, there's an air traffic control Kadhamy, and it's been closed during the shutdown. So people who've recently been higher need to go through training. You know, they're kind of in limbo right now being told just to sit tight in. It's really not clear Reto for some of them. How long they'll be able to do that just not to have any income coming in to be able to really start their work, and that's a huge concern to their traffic controllers almost twenty percents of their existing is retirement eligible. So they really need constant pipeline of new. Controller's coming in. And if there's a big gap it could become a huge problem, especially since they're starting to see uptick in in resignations retirements people just saying I need a job where I get paid. It's people talking about leaving. So there's really facing what they say is a potential staffing crisis to the longer strikes out through the more concern that they're becoming about the system overall. And Allison what about those other shortages at the Transportation Security Administration. That's also been a concern here when it comes to airport in airline security. Yeah. There are a lot of federal workers that are volved it kind of all points in air travel, including people who work the checkpoints, and who scan bags at airports, the transportation security ministration, they are also considered essential. So they're still working, but they're not being paid. So what we seen is sort of a growing number of TSA. Edens the calling inside just can't come in today as he says they're hearing from their poise that they're facing financial imitation. That make it hard for them to come into work.

Coming up next