U.S. govt shutdown compromises Miami airport operations

TSA officer Mike Gayzagian

TSA officer Mike Gayzagian

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NATCA also moved for a court order requiring the government to restore air traffic controllers' pay while the lawsuit is pending.

And, up until a few days ago, many agents have powered through the shutdown.

With Concourse G, home to United and smaller airlines, closing to outbound flights at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, restaurants and shops inside the terminal will shut down, too.

If a significant number of controllers missed work, the Federal Aviation Administration could be forced to extend separation requirements, amount of time between takeoffs and landings, which could delay travel. He said only 12 planes usually fly out of G after 1 p.m., meaning the disruption only affects about 3 percent of the roughly 450 departing flights MIA sees on a typical day. The TSA has 51,000 transportation-security officers, who have continued to work because they are deemed essential employees.

With no end for the partial government shutdown in sight, Lexington TSA workers are wondering when they'll see their next paycheck. Airline-industry officials worry that they are particularly likely to stop showing up because their relatively low pay means they could quickly struggle to pay bills without money coming in.

Airport screeners start around $24,000 and most earn between $26,000 and $35,000 a year, according to TSA.

The agency has very few tools to deal with a severe shortage.

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Ten people had serious but non-life threatening injuries while at least another 37 people had lighter injuries, he said. Police have encouraged members of the public to stay away from the area as emergency services attend to the scene.

While impacts to travelers as a result of airport security screening has so far been minimal, airports fear it could rapidly worsen, said Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington.

Airport CEO Christina Cassotis said earlier this week, "We are just so heartened at the commitment the TSA employees have shown here at the airport".

Chin told The Miami Herald that some passengers have complained about longer waits, but there've been no abnormal security delays.

As the government shutdown continues to stretch on, Pittsburgh International Airport has made a decision to provide an act of kindness to the TSA agents working without pay right now.

Chin said federal screeners are calling in sick at double the normal rate for Miami, and TSA managers aren't confident they will have enough workers to operate all 11 checkpoints throughout the airport at normal hours.

Airport administrators noted the concourse was the slowest at MIA, and that about a dozen flights would be shifted out of G to other terminals.

"Airlines can not receive delivery of aircraft causing route cancellations, attrition of air traffic controllers reduces flow of aircraft in the air, and as transportation security officers reduce in numbers we will experience long, slowed security lines".

Now, union representatives want lawmakers to do the same thing. There is no indication that is happening yet.

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