(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–Air traffic controllers at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas continue to work through the government shutdown, directing flights at the nation’s sixth-busiest airport.
But they’re not being paid.
“You dont want an air traffic controller distracted at all’, said Jamaal Haltom, a McCarran controller, in an interview with KXNT.”Not getting paid is something we found out about recently”, Haltom chuckled. “We gotta be here. We know how important we are to the national airspace system. We take pride in moving people and things to where they need to get.”
Air controllers are working because they are deemed essential to keeping the government working during the shutdown, but many others in the system are furloughed and no where to be seen these days. They include support personnel who perform a variety of other tasks that controllers consider important. They are people who update publications, update radar scopes, notifying controllers when navigational aids are down or changed, or when frequencies are changed. “They perform a pivotal part in moving airplanes though the system safely, and they’re not here’, says Haltom.
Controllers are also concerned that construction of a new control tower at McCarran has been halted because of the shutdown. “Construction has gone on at the airport since our original tower was built and its created some blind spots on the tower. The new tower will eliminate those, but now that constructeion is halted, its not as simple as soon as the government figures out where we’re going that it gets started again. Those delays will be long-felt”, said Haltom.
While the shutdown continues, there are calls in Congress to insure that workers who are required to stay on the job while not receiving pay will be paid once the shutdown ends. That was the case the last time the government shut down–in 1995-96.