The 35-day federal government shutdown/lockout left the U.S. aviation system near collapse, the president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) says. And it could happen again as soon as mid-February, warns union President Paul Rinaldi. Rinaldi reviewed the shutdown and its impact in a Jan. 29 speech to the Aero Club of Washington – a group of private pilots, interests concerned with aviation (including unions) and others – and a follow-up q-&-a with reporters. “Can this happen again?” he asked rhetorically in his speech. “Yes.” The air traffic impact alone affected 12 million people directly, millions more indirectly, and impacted 1/20th of the U.S. economy. “It’s the proverbial Humpty-Dumpty,” Rinaldi told reporters afterwards about the shutdown. “Put it back together, but it could fall down again. “Of this shutdown/lockout, he later added: “It’s terrorism.” Air traffic controllers played a key role in ending the shutdown/lockout. Trump finally caved in after an hour-and-22-minute morning shutdown of New York’s busy LaGuardia Airport due to lack of staffing, that rippled throughout the U.S. air system.
- Mark Gruenberg, PAI Staff Writer; photo: federal employees protest at Seattle-Tacoma airport; photo by Steve Ringman/Seattle Times, from NATCA's Twitter feed
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