Airline Pilot Association Tells Donald Trump the Government Shutdown Is Putting Safety at Risk

The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) has urged President Donald Trump to end the government shutdown, saying it puts the national airspace system's safety at risk.

"The nation's airspace system is a complex transportation network that involves government and industry partnerships to function properly, and the disruptions being caused by the shutdown are threatening the safe operations of this network," ALPA President Captain Joe DePete wrote in a letter to Trump dated January 2. "The government agency partners in the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have dual roles. They are both regulators and service providers. When any of their responsibilities are placed on pause due to a shutdown there are safety, security and efficiency gaps that immediately emerge."

The letter noted that "at both the FAA and at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the air traffic controllers, airspace system maintenance personnel, and the airline passenger security workforce," folks were being asked to work without pay, facing significant financial hardship.

pilots ask trump stop shutdown not safe
An view of a Southwest airlines jet as photographed at Laguardia Airport on November 10, 2018, in New York City. The Air Line Pilots Association, International has urged President Donald Trump to halt the government shutdown for safety's sake. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

DePete's letter also pointed out that reduced safety procedures could be dangerous.

"For example, at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) there are fewer safety inspectors than are needed in order to ensure the air traffic control infrastructure is performing at its peak levels of performance," wrote DePete. "There are also airline and aircraft manufacturing oversight activities that either stop or are significantly reduced. These safety and oversight inspections will potentially allow for the introduction of safety issues that put passengers and airline crews at risk."

While the ALPA might urge Trump and other leaders to find a way to end the shutdown, there doesnt seem to be a resolution coming soon. The president sparked the shutdown by refusing to sign a stop-gap spending bill if it didn't included funding for the border wall he promised during the 2016 campaign. The partial shutdown has entered its 17th day, which is not far off from the longest-ever at 21 days.

Trump apparently has his heals dug in on the issue. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week that the president indicated he would keep the shutdown going for a very long time.

"We told the president we needed the government open. He resisted," Schumer said. "In fact, he said he'd keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years."