There are increasing signs that the USA may face a government shutdown, resulting in millions of government employees not receiving their wages. As a consequence, travelers may experience long waiting times at airports. The U.S. government has warned federal agency workers that a shutdown appears imminent. This means that numerous employees and military personnel won't be able to receive their salaries. Consequently, many may call in sick or not show up for work. To avoid a government shutdown, Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to solve the issue before Sunday.
The impending standstill has raised concerns for the U.S. aviation industry. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirms that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now screening 2.5 million passengers daily, even more than before the pandemic. The DHS has warned that if there is a shutdown, air traffic controllers and TSA officers must work without pay, leading to significant delays at airports nationwide.
History suggests that politicians know the danger of a government shutdown. The last shutdown that began on December 22, 2018, was ended by Congress on the exact day massive flight chaos was looming. The increase in air traffic controller absenteeism in Jacksonville and the Washington area impacted the entire U.S. airline network, resulting in delays along the East Coast and beyond. For instance, New York LaGuardia Airport in Queens was temporarily not operational due to staff shortages. However, Congress finally ended the shutdown on January 25, 2019, which eventually helped mitigate the negative effects on the aviation industry.