Miami International Airport (MIA) will temporarily shutter one of its terminals this weekend as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners have been calling in sick at twice the airport’s normal rate as the partial federal government shutdown shows no signs of coming to an end.
MIA spokesman Greg Chin confirmed to the Associated Press on Jan. 10 that management for the highly frequented air hub will close Terminal G at 1 p.m. on Saturday, reopen for flights Sunday morning and close again at 1 p.m. that day. Chin further divulged that there’s a concern there won’t be enough workers to handle all 11 checkpoints during normal hours over the weekend.
“We felt we had to make a decision before the weekend,” he said at the time. “They’re erring on the side of caution.”
Terminal G is the slowest of the six concourses at the airport, with about 12 planes a day flying out after 1 p.m., as per the AP, which is about three percent of the roughly 450 flights that depart each day. Terminal G’s flights will be diverted to other terminals this weekend.
More than 51,000 TSA employees have been working without pay since Dec. 22 and officially missed their first paycheck yesterday, Bloomberg reports.
On Jan. 10, the agency reported a 55 percent increase in employees calling out sick, a dramatic spike from a 3.3 percent one year ago.
Meanwhile, the TSA says screening times have not slowed significantly as the shutdown stretches on, despite reports of employees calling out sick and passengers reporting “chaos” and “nightmare” crowds. The agency recently responded to a scathing Jan. 4 report that claimed hundreds of TSA workers were calling out sick and staging a “sickout” amid the government shutdown.
Moving forward, Chin said that if the shutdown continues and additional screeners don’t show up for work, the airport could be forced to close a security checkpoint at terminals that have multiple entry points, such as Concourse J or Concourse D.
It remains unclear at this time how such a potential decision would affect security screening and departure schedules for the air hub as a whole.
Reps for the TSA were not able to return Fox News’ request for comment on the story due to the shutdown, as they have been placed on furlough until further notice.
MIA is said to be the twelfth busiest airport in the US, as America’s gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, as per a November 2018 report from TripSavvy. The air hub is also America’s third-busiest airport for international passengers, driving business revenue of $30.9 billion annually as it carries approximately 60 percent of all international visitors to the Sunshine State, as per the airport’s website.
TSA spokesman Michael Bilello also told Bloomberg that the agency has not heard of any other airport planning to shut down an entire concourse as MIA has.
In similar aviation headlines, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association filed a lawsuit on Jan. 11 against the Trump administration, claiming that requiring thousands of controllers to work without pay is a violation of constitutional rights, Fox News Insider reports.
Fox News’ Michael Bartiromo and the Associated Press contributed to this report.