JetBlue CEO: Air travel is nearing a 'tipping point' because of the government shutdown
- JetBlue's CEO Robin Hayes warned of delays, long waits, and even cancellations because of the government shutdown.
- On a call with investors and analysts, he said that the longer this stalemate lasts, the more harm it will do to the nation's air travel network.
- TSA workers and air traffic controllers have been working without pay for 35 days now, and missed their second paycheck on Friday.
The airline's day-to-day operations have "not seen a significant impact" its bookings or operations yet, Robin Hayes told investors and analysts on the JetBlue's fourth-quarter earnings call.However, "we are close to a tipping point, as many of these employees are about to miss a second paycheck," he warned.
That became reality on Friday as hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed their second paycheck thanks to the partial government shutdown that's now on day 35 with no end in sight.
Transportation Security Administration workers, perhaps the most public of federal aviation workers who have been working without pay, have been calling out of work at an increasing rate in recent weeks. Over the Monday holiday this week, the absence rate hit a record-breaking 10% - or more than 3,000 employees - compared to the usual 3.1% from the prior year.
That's caused wait times at some airports, including Atlanta where millions of football fans will flock for the Super Bowl next weekend, to swell.
"Our crew members and customers are likely to face extended security lines, flight delays, and even cancellations," Hayes said. "And the longer this goes on, the longer it will take for the air travel infrastructure to rebound."
Behind the scenes, air traffic controllers, already understaffed and overworked, have also been working without pay. Despite small shows of support from Canadian counterparts in the form of pizza, many federal workers - ATC staff included - have been heading to food pantries as they attempt to make ends meet without an income.The union that represents ATC employees this week issued a dire warning over passenger safety.
"We cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break," leaders said.
"Our nation's leaders must find a resolution to this stalemate today," Hayes said. "We will be closely monitoring the events and will provide any updates if needed."
Lapsed food benefits for millions, courts system on the brink, and the potential for recession: other effects of the shutdown
- The former White House aide Anthony Scaramucci warned that the partial shutdown could put America's economy into a recession if it continued for another month.
- John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff, publicly asked Trump and Congress to end the shutdown, specifically citing its effects on the Department of Homeland Security.
- Because of the shutdown, Trump became the first president in US history to be disinvited from delivering the State of the Union address.
- New car models may not be rolled out during the shutdown.
- FBI agents gave shocking warnings about how the shutdown could affect safety in the US.
- By the end of this week, the shutdown could end up costing more than the $5.7 billion Trump wants for the border wall.
- The government has been left powerless in dealing with product recalls, potentially putting customers in dangerous situations.
- Schools are worried about being able to feed children their lunches if the shutdown continues.
- Cybersecurity experts say the shutdown is putting the US is atgreater risk of attack.
- Secret Service agents are working with no pay, with some saying that they are struggling to make ends meet and that job performance could be affected.
- National parks are facing piles of trash and damaged trees.