BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore-area aviation attorney Keith Franz said he is alarmed over the impact of the government shutdown on America’s air travel system.
Franz represented four Maryland families who sued airlines over security issues after their loved ones died in the 9/11 terror attacks.
“The consequences of a failure—as we saw during 9/11—could be catastrophic,” Franz said.
He said he is particularly worried about air traffic controllers, who were already dealing with the stress of understaffing and long shifts before the shutdown. Many employees who assist controllers have been furloughed.
“Even before, they were working 60 hours a week. Now—without support staff—the system is eroding, and we have real concerns about the safety of the flying public.”
Franz notes training for new air traffic controllers has been halted even as more are scheduled to retire this year.
He also worries about stresses on TSA agents.
“They need to be 100% right 100% of the time,” he said.
BWI-Marshall Airport had to shut down Security Checkpoint A over the weekend. It was open Tuesday and the airport said the temporary closure had minimal impact on passengers.
The TSA said on Monday that most passengers got through checkpoints in less than 30 minutes.
Still, BWI-Marshall had the third highest maximum wait time for standard passengers at 36 minutes. That is compared with the top 42 airports in the country.
The wait time for TSA PreCheck passengers was 13 minutes, tied with Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as the nation’s longest.
“It’s a concern that will only get worse as the shutdown continues,” Franz said.
The government maintains it is safe to fly.