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Officials: Government shutdown comes at serious risk for travelers

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The government shutdown has left hundreds of thousands of people temporarily without a job, including the ones inspecting commercial airplanes. At least 40 employees are affected in the Nashville area. That’s concerning for passengers like Rahni Akers, a military wife who is leaving Nashville headed back to Germany where her husband is stationed.

“Why is this happening? Why can’t we come to an agreement? Why can’t we get this situated because people’s lives are at stake,” said Akers.

Federal personnel who ensure planes meet government safety standards say the shutdown comes at a serious risk.

“They system will reach a risk pinnacle that becomes very, very dangerous,” said Michael Gonzalez, Region 4 Spokesman for the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists.

PASS is a union representing FAA employees. Gonzalez says for now, federal employees are not conducting plane maintenance, verifying pilot licenses, securing cockpits, ensuring proper weight and fuel loads of planes and much more. It’s up to the airlines to do so, but with no government oversight.

“We’re sitting on pins and needles and waiting to see the Fox News broadcast breaking alert that we have an issue,” said Gonzalez.

A spokesperson for the Nashville airport says despite no government oversight, everything is safe and all operations are normal. While that offers some reassurance for some passengers, they still have some concerns.

“I think probably for a few more days or weeks the self-regulation will be in place, so it’s OK but there should always be government oversight,” said Sandra Hinson who is traveling from Nashville back home to California.

“Because of this disagreement, people are suffering. They are honestly suffering,” added Akers.

As for the workers who are without a job and pay during the holiday season, Gonzalez says the credit union that partnered with the union is prepared to offer zero interest loans to help them get through the furlough.

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