Local airport operations continue as usual despite shutdown

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport has had zero call-outs during shutdown

ROANOKE, Va. – Airports across the country are feeling the pinch from the government shutdown, but that hasn't been the case in Southwest Virginia.

There have been reports from some airports of Transportation Security Administration officers calling in sick, leading to long security lines or closed checkpoints during the shutdown.

Brad Boettcher, with Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, said those issues haven't popped up locally.

“You get some of the larger hubs and what they’re struggling with is higher cost of living," Boettcher said. "So you’ve got people that if they’re not getting paychecks, they might need to do something else to pay the rent.”

Boettcher said it's important for travelers to remember to arrive early for flights, especially at larger airports.

"I would definitely encourage people, get there on a return flight out of a larger airport at least two hours ahead of time," Boettcher said. "We're still advising people an hour or 90 minutes is probably best here, but in those larger airports at least give yourself a couple hours from when you check in to being able to get through the checkpoint."

Scott Robinson, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 448, which represents TSA workers in Virginia, said the shutdown is taking its toll.

"Morale is down," Robinson said. "Many of our officers do work paycheck-to-paycheck, and many of our officers are single parents. Many of our officers have single-income households so the lack of a paycheck and the uncertainty of when the next paycheck will come is very distressing, very distracting to every single officer." 

Robinson said, despite the challenges, TSA officers will continue to work to keep travelers safe.

"It's a very dedicated, professional work force and I would not be overly concerned with the service they will provide," Robinson said.

More than 50,000 TSA officers continue to work without a paycheck as the government shutdown nears the end of its third week.

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