Russian-esque Roulette

Feb. 18, 2019

So, as I’m writing this column, TSA workers and air traffic controllers are going unpaid, federal security employees are doing “sickouts” en mass, planes are taking off sans safety inspections and the FDA isn’t inspecting if the food we’re eating while waiting to board those planes is safe.

Oh, and at least one airline — as I write this — now apparently has its flight attendants working for tips.

And on top of all of this, we lost Herb Kelleher.

I don’t know about you, but my Dryuary didn’t stand a chance.

While we’re proud of how robust our national aviation industry is and reports of booming traffic numbers from coast-to-coast, the federal shutdown is a sobering realization how fragile the system really is.

It’s frustrating how quickly things can escalate, especially when we’re being punished over a political issue that has nothing to do with aviation, much less the transportation sector as a whole. Ancillary victims are common in hardball politics, but full scorched earth tactics on the bystanders is a whole new level of concern.

Airports are already expecting federal funding delays on projects in part to the shutdown. And if it’s still going by the time you read this, it’s likely only a matter of time before the air traffic controllers strike and bring the whole system to a halt (if they haven’t already). I’d expect other aviation-related employees have and/or will do the same.

Our leaders are rolling the dice on the safety of the entire aviation system on the back of one $6 billion hyper-political issue within a $1.4 trillion federal discretionary budget.

The bright spot in all of this is how the aviation industry reacted. As the shutdown turned into weeks, airports across the country stepped up to help where they could. From providing free meals to federal workers to fairs to give them access to help, everyone stepped up to rise above the fray of politics and lend a hand to the people being impacted the most.

While the issues facing the industry are formidable, the character of the people running is resilient. This character shows when united together as an industry, we look past the politics and get back to the root of the matter: serving people. It’s encouraging to see and something to keep going once the shutdown is over and fades into history.

Meanwhile, I’m about to board a plane out of Milwaukee that hasn’t been inspected, is being directed by a controller who hasn’t been paid in a month, was screened by a security staff that’s working for free and eating food that wasn’t subject to FDA inspections.

I sure hope Herb left an extra bottle of Wild Turkey behind.

About the Author

Joe Petrie | Editor & Chief

Joe Petrie is the Editorial Director for the Endeavor Aviation Group.

Joe has spent the past 15 years writing about the most cutting-edge topics related to transportation and policy in a variety of sectors with an emphasis on transportation issues for the past 10 years.

Contact: Joe Petrie

Editor & Chief | Airport Business

[email protected]


>> To download the AviationPros media kits, visit: Marketing Resource Center

>>Check out our aviation magazines: Ground Support Worldwide |  Airport Business  | Aircraft Maintenance Technology