NATCA grateful for end of shutdown, pins hopes on long-term financing

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said it was ‘grateful and relieved’ that the US President and the nation’s Congress had reached an agreement to temporarily end the shutdown and reopen the government

In a statement about the agreement to temporarily end the shutdown and reopen the government. NATCA’s President Paul Rinaldi stated: “After 35 days of this senseless government shutdown, we are grateful and relieved that the President and Congress reached an agreement to temporarily end the shutdown and reopen the government through February 15.”

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He said the union remained hopeful for a long-term appropriations bill and that controllers and other aviation safety professionals represented by NATCA would be able to continue to ensure the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) and the flying public, without worrying about their next paycheck.

“Today’s agreement is due, in large part, to the tireless activism of NATCA’s members since the shutdown began,” he said. “We express our deepest gratitude to NATCA members who continued to work for the past 35 days despite the stress caused by the shutdown. NATCA also recognizes the sacrifices made by those other aviation safety professionals who were furloughed (temporarily laid off).”

He also thanked all aviation industry stakeholders for their efforts to end the shutdown and specifically acknowledge the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) for their solidarity during the longest government shutdown in US history.

“Although the news today is positive, we must not lose focus on the short-term nature of this agreement, and the need to continue to make our voice heard to avoid another shutdown on February 15, 2019,” noted Rinaldi.

“This 35-day shutdown reinforces our strong belief that the status quo is broken. The NAS requires a stable, predictable funding stream in order to adequately support air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure, integration of new entrants, and the timely implementation of NextGen modernisation projects. The constant funding crises that arise from stop-and-go funding continue to wreak havoc on our system and perpetuate the current staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 30-year low of certified professional controllers.”