61,000 airline pilots to Trump: Your shutdown is putting lives at risk


Trump is making travel more dangerous.

The world's largest airline pilot union is warning Trump that his shutdown of the federal government endangers the lives of the millions who travel across the world every day.

The warning came in a letter to Trump from the Air Line Pilots Association International on behalf of the 61,000 pilots who are members.

Captain Joe DePete, the organization's president, urged Trump in the letter to "immediately end the shutdown of government agencies that is adversely affecting the safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system."

Trump is refusing to sign any bill to reopen the federal government unless he gets more than $5 billion for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico — a useless, racist idea that most Americans don't even want.

Because of Trump's shutdown, DePete noted, there are fewer safety inspectors available to ensure that the air traffic control system is functioning properly, which could "put passengers and airline crews at risk."

The airline industry relies on a cooperation between government and private industry, DePete wrote, and "the disruptions being caused by the shutdown are threatening the safe operations of this network." A lack of funding for the Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security is causing immediate "safety, security and efficiency gaps," he said.

The shutdown is also harming the families of those employed at these agencies, as well as the broader economy.

"At some point, these dedicated federal employees will encounter personal financial damages that will take a long time from which to recover, if at all," DePete wrote.

Trump recently dismissed the harm he's causing by claiming the wall is a "higher purpose than next week's pay" for federal workers. But the actual workers say this is a lie and are calling for the government to reopen.

In addition to putting travelers' lives at risk, the shutdown is also causing serious inconveniences.

Lines at major airports like LaGuardia in New York City are growing because TSA agents are beginning to call out sick at a higher rate than normal. On a normal day, 3.5 percent of workers call out. That has recently risen to 5.5 percent.

One frequent business traveler told ABC News he's "never seen the line in LaGuardia that bad and I probably take the shuttle 40 to 50 times each year, 25 round trips."

Trump's obsession with his wall isn't just creating havoc across America; airline pilots also say it is making travel unsafe across the world. And the longer Trump's shutdown continues, the more lives will be on the line.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.