As the U.S. government shutdown approaches the end of its third week, meeting planners are keeping a close eye on the situation, especially those expecting federal government employees to attend or speak at their events, and those concerned about attendees who may face long lines for security or customs and immigration screening. For travel industry organizations, however, their concerns are around the impacts of the shutdown on safety and economic issues.
Air Line Pilots Association International sent a strongly worded letter to President Trump urging him to end the shutdown. “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,” wrote Captain Joe DePete, ALPAI’s president. He cited the shutdown’s effect on the number of Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors, delays in the implementation of the FAA’s new communications systems called Data Communications (Data Comm), and economic stress on those being asked to work without pay, including air traffic controllers and the airline passenger security workforce. “The pressure these civil servants are facing at home should not be ignored,” he wrote.
The U.S. Travel Association is closely monitoring developments around the shutdown. “The ability to travel in the U.S. is a nonpartisan issue,” said Jonathan Grella, USTA’s executive vice president of public affairs, in a statement. “If aspects of the shutdown are beginning to hinder the air travel process, political leaders need to understand that there will be immediate and measurable harm to the U.S. economy and jobs—and those concerns are non-partisan, as well.” Grella says USTA is “prepared to quantify the economic fallout of related travel disruptions so that policymakers stay fully informed.”