How The Government Shutdown Has Affected The TSA

THE LATEST: Delta says federal government shutdown will take $25M toll on the airline this month

Delta Air Lines said Tuesday morning that the partial government shutdown is hurting its financial results.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the shutdown is costing the company $25 million in revenue this month as fewer government contractors and employees travel.

“We are seeing some pressure on our business,” Bastian said during an investor conference call Tuesday morning. “We strongly encourage our elected officials to do their very best to resolve their differences and get the government fully open as soon as possible.”

The Transportation Security Administration said wait times at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at their peak were about an hour and a half long on Monday. In PreCheck lanes, the wait times were up to 55 minutes long at the Atlanta airport, TSA said. 

That’s significantly higher than the longest waits at other airports. Dallas Love Field, for example, had maximum wait times of 41 minutes on Monday. The maximum PreCheck wait time in Seattle was 14 minutes.

Air traffic controller Rafael Naveira and fellow ATC workers protest the federal shutdown at the north terminal. Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC
 

Photo: John Spink/AJC

Atlanta-based Delta, which faces challenges in growing its profit margins this year, said it expects its first quarter unit revenue growth to be limited due to “the ongoing government shutdown,” along with currency headwinds and the timing of Easter.

In Atlanta on Monday, “we had some very long lines,” Bastian said on CNBC. “Most of our airports are reporting no material change in the line waits,” he said, and “this morning we’re anticipating being just fine in Atlanta.”

The airline’s planned debut of the Airbus A220 later this month will likely be delayed due to the shutdown, Bastian said.

“If we get the certification back on schedule in the next week, we will” keep the debut on schedule, Bastian said on CNBC. “If not, we’ll delay it until the FAA inspectors come back to work.” 

He said the airline’s ability to put other new planes into service is also being hampered.

“We’re not taking sides on the debate, but we need to get the business moving again,” he said on CNBC.

Otherwise, he said the $25 million impact could continue as a monthly rate. “Hopefully it doesn’t last too much longer,” Bastian said.

Delta detailed the impact of the shutdown as it reported $3.9 billion in net income for 2018, up 23 percent from $3.2 billion in 2017.

The company grew operating revenue by 8 percent to $44.4 billion in 2018, while operating expense increased 11 percent to $39.2 billion.

But it benefited from a decrease in interest expense and a $1 billion non-cash decline in income taxes. Delta is not yet a cash taxpayer due to the carry-forward of past years’ losses, but it recorded a benefit from federal tax reform.

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