Airline industry hit hard by government shutdown

CHICAGO, Illinois (NBC) – More than one month into the government shutdown, perhaps no industry is feeling the impact more than the airlines.

From unpaid TSA agents increasingly not coming to work to airlines waiting for government approval of new flights, the industry is in a holding pattern.

The lines are getting longer, the frustration is growing.

With the government shutdown dragging on, TSA workers are approaching a second pay-day where they won’t get paid. So a growing number of agents are not showing up for their shifts, more than 10 percent over the weekend.

While Washington won’t budge, the airlines are waiting for key government approvals.

Delta’s newest plane, the Airbus A220 is scheduled to start flying January 31st.

But with many in the FAA furloughed, the agency has not approved the plane for commercial service.

Leaving Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, to wonder when the shutdown will end. He said, “We encourage the elected officials to do their very best to resolve these differences as quickly as possible, we are not taking sides on the debate but we need to get the business moving again.”

For southwest airlines, the government shutdown means it cannot begin flying to Hawaii.

The FAA must approve all planes making extended flights over bodies of water.

So until that happens, Southwest is holding off selling tickets, and beginning flights to the islands—a huge moment for the airline.

As frustrating as this shutdown is for airlines, the TSA and others in the industry, the good news is this government slowdown has had a limited impact in demand.

For the most part, bookings remain solid.

But if the security lines get longer and we start to see more travel headaches, many worry the industry will pay the price.

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