Three weeks in the partial government shutdown, airports and their workers begin to feel serious pain.
At least one large airport has had to temporarily close a collection because of staffing problems related to the closure. Others open food boxes to support the Transport Security Administration's employees who work without pay.
Miami International Airport closed one of its half-day concourses on Saturday. Airport officials said they were planning to do the same on Sunday and Monday out of concerns that they would not have enough staff to operate all of the security checks.
The decision was made after an unusually high number of workers called sick. The number of illness-related absences has doubled since the closure started, Miami officials said.
That jump is probably linked to a national trend of TSA employees who call themselves ill to protest against having to work without pay during the closure.
The spokesman for the Miami International Airport, Greg Chin, said the decision to close parts of the airport was a "precautionary measure to optimize staffing" at peak times when a large number of cruise passengers leave the city. The 1[ads1]0-12 aircraft affected will differ from other terminals.
Airports across the country are faced with a shortage of staffing, according to statistics published by TSA. On Friday, 5.6 percent of the administration's 51,000 workers did not work for work, compared with 3.3 percent who took unscheduled absenteeism on January 13, 2018.
But the impact of these absences on pilots and aviation security has been discussed hot. . After more news has published stories with long lines in the safety of airplanes, the Home Security Ministry drove back and called the report "false news". Officials say there have been no major delays and no impact on national security.
On Friday, TSA released data showing that nearly all of the 1,96 million passengers flying on Friday cleared security within 30 minutes. About 95 percent waited less than 15 minutes, according to the data.
"Security standards remain uncompromising at the country's airports," wrote TSA spokesman Jim Gregory in an email. "We thank the public for their continued support and kindness."
However, airport officials warn that the situation may be much worse if the closure is not resolved soon. Many say they are preparing contingency plans to deal with the lack of TSA workers, such as shutting down certain security checkpoints or temporarily allowing additional employees to run guns or performing other non-security features.
"Despite the closure, the TSA Security Officers continue to do a good job of efficient and efficient screening of passengers and bags," said Christopher Bidwell, Airports Council International-North America's Senior Security Officer, an association representing owners and operators. of airports. "But we are very concerned that the situation of government workers working without pay is unsustainable."
Although the effects of the shutdown on aircraft operations do not appear to be widespread right now, smaller airports may be most vulnerable because even some few absent TSA workers can cause long safety lines.
Some help groups are also on the rise to provide groceries and other necessities to money-backed security sensors.
Tampa International Airport works with local partners to launch a food chamber for federal workers. Monday
"At our airport we look in." Not at this point operational effects like they are at other airports, "spokeswoman Janet Scherberger said. The food pantry, she said, would help keep people motivated to appear.
"We want people to keep coming to work," she said. "We need them to keep the airport going."
Ca. 80 TSA workers from Raleigh-Durham International Airport visited a food pantry last week, according to Kathleen Lee, director of services for the White Oak Foundation, who organized the aid. Lee said that in the future, the organization had designated two days a week for TSA workers to retrieve food "as long as it is productive and necessary."
Other airports are looking at ways to support employees, such as bringing in utility companies to give workers more flexibility by paying their bills or a credit association that can help provide loans.
This is the goal in Tampa, where the grocery store will also offer a bus pass to help employees get to work during the closure.
"This really is an answer to the need for people we work with every day and not being paid, and so it is about making the right thing for people who are part of the airport," says Scherberger.
TSA Administrator David P. Pekoske also announced on Friday that workers who staffed the checkpoints on December 22 would be paid for their work that day and would get a bonus to work through the busy high season.
"While I realize that this is not what you do I owe hard work during the pay period 26 and what you deserve, I hope these actions alleviate some of the financial difficulties many of you face, "Pekoske tweeted .