Alaska Airlines CEO on government shutdown

Every day, folks get up and go to work. It’s something that’s easy to take for granted – until we realize that some people are going to work and not getting paid.

In the aviation industry, it takes a complex orchestra of airline, government and other employees to keep our system operational and to ensure flyers get to where they are going in a timely and safe manner. All of us at Alaska Airlines would like to take a moment to thank the federal government employees responsible for keeping aviation safe throughout the year – especially over the last 30 days.

The current government shutdown is having a serious impact on the aviation sector and those who support the industry, and we hope it ends soon. There are roughly 48,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and 15,000 air traffic controllers among the huge group of dedicated federal employees coming to work every day and not getting paid. They’re committed to the important mission of keeping aviation safe, yet these employees will miss their second paycheck this week. This is not right, and it’s not sustainable. We are calling on all of our leaders to return our system to normal and get these people paid.

During this uncertain time, it is encouraging to see people rally together to try and help those impacted by the shutdown. We’ve all seen many gestures of appreciation, most often in the form of a simple thank you to TSA agents and air traffic controllers for keeping us safe. There is a renewed appreciation for the importance of their work, and that is good.

Our guests here in the Pacific Northwest felt the effects of the government shutdown earlier this week. We made a tough decision to delay our start of service at Paine Field, a new commercial airport in Everett, Washington, due to the shutdown. As a result, we’ve had to re-accommodate or cancel thousands of our guests’ flights.

We expect the shutdown will become much more disruptive to the aviation system if it continues much longer.

With the industry driving more than 7 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and millions of jobs, we want our nation’s aviation system to be strong.

Brad Tilden, Alaska Airlines CEO