It’s also delayed hiring plans for new employees who require certain federal clearances, such as mechanics, Delta said.
Several major U.S. airports have been strained by the shutdown as the absentee rate of Transportation Security Administration screeners climbs. Some of the nation’s busiest airports have closed down security checkpoints, leading to long lines for travelers, due to the staffing shortfall. Wait times at security checkpoints in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Monday topped one hour with several lanes closed. The airport is the world’s busiest and Delta’s hub.
TSA officers are among the some 420,000 federal employees deemed essential who are required to work without regular paychecks during the impasse. Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said the airline staff have been helping direct passengers and providing assistance with “non-security” tasks to help short-handed TSA agents get passengers to their gates.
Security lines at Atlanta’s airport on Tuesday were about 15 minutes, a spokesperson said, a wait time within TSA’s standard of a half-hour or less. TSA said the bottlenecks were limited to a few airports on Monday and that more than 94 percent of the 1.89 million screened passengers passed through TSA checkpoints in 15 minutes or less.
Airline earnings continue after the bell on Tuesday when United Continental Holdings, parent of United Airlines, reports fourth-quarter results.