United, Alaska, and Spirit flight attendants are warning Trump, Pelosi, and McConnell that the government shutdown is doing real damage to the airline industry

  • The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) circulated a letter on Thursday asking President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end the government shutdown.
  • The AFA-CWA is a union representing 50,000 flight attendants from airlines such as United, Alaska, Spirit, and Hawaiian.
  • The flight attendants were joined by more than 30 other unions and organisation from across the aviation industry, including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).
  • They are asking both sides of the aisle to end the shutdown due to the operational and financial harm being done to workers and the travelling public.

As the federal government shutdown drags into its third week, the US civil aviation industry has issued a warning to both sides of the political divide that real harm is being done.

On Thursday, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA circulated a letter dispatched to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“We write to urge you to act now to prevent the negative impacts currently being experienced by the U.S. aviation industry that supports the travelling and shipping public,” the letter said. “This partial shutdown has already inflicted real damage to our nation’s aviation system and the impacts will only worsen over time.”

The AFA-CWA, a union representing 50,000 flight attendants from airlines such as United, Alaska, Spirit, and Hawaiian, have been joined by more than 30 other unions and organisation from across the aviation industry including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

Read more: Delta, United, and JetBlue pilots are warning that flying will become more dangerous as the government shutdown continues.

In the letter, the organisations express concerns about the shutdown’s impact across the industry, including:

  • The training of air-traffic controllers has been halted even though the number of working controllers is already at a 30-year low. In addition, controllers and the technical operations staff who maintain air-traffic-control equipment are working without pay, athough it should be noted that they are due back pay once the shutdown is over.
  • The certification and authorization of new aircraft have been halted. This means that airlines can’t add new planes to their fleets. According to the letter, this could hinder planned route expansion and cause flight cancellations.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration cannot issue new student pilot certificates, which has halted the training of prospective pilots. In addition, the FAA is also not processing background checks, which prevents new-hire pilots from continuing their training.
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection Agents are working without pay. This, the letter says, creates severe financial hardship since many are living paycheck to paycheck.

The AFA-CWA and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) sent a separate letter on Thursday to Trump, Pelosi, and McConnell, demanding an end to the shutdown. The APFA represents flight attendants from American Airlines.

“Flight Attendants across the industry ask you to end the shutdown now,” the letter reads. “This is a matter of safety, security, and economic concern.”

These letters echo many of the concerns voiced by ALPA, NATCA, and the TSA workers’ union in recent weeks. In a letter to Trump, ALPA said that the shutdown is negatively affecting the safety, security, and efficiency of the national airspace.

Read more: TSA employees working unpaid because of the government shutdown are quitting – and this could create a ‘massive security risk’ for travellers.

The head of the TSA workers’ union said in a post on the organisation’s website that some workers had already quit and that many others were considering quitting due to a lack of income.

Aviation industry workers, along with som political leaders, are rallying in Washington, DC, on Thursday to demand an end to the government shutdown.

Here’s the AFA-CWA’s first letter in its entirety:

Aviation Shutdown ImpactsL… by onScribd

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.