FAA hits partial shutdown. Nobody notices.

We previously posed the question, what happens if Congress can’t manage to agree on another extension of the FAA authorization before the current one expires? Well, when the clock struck midnight yesterday, we found out.

Since politicians were not able to come to an agreement over extending the operating authority of the FAA as of midnight tonight, about 4,000 people will be out of work and federal airline ticket tax will no longer be collected. The shutdown will not affect airline safety, but it will stop airlines from collecting about $200million per week in ticket taxes that would help to to fund FAA programs. In the short term, passengers might celebrate since they will be able to save money by not paying taxes, but this means that projects will be delayed and costs might end up being higher in the long run.

Folks, this is a disaster. Sure, the planes are still flying. And, yes, the flight controllers and safety personnel are still on the job so it should be safe. But a lot of government workers were furloughed. And they won’t be able to collect taxes! And tickets may be cheaper this week! And… and…

You know, I’m not actually making a very good argument against shutting down the FAA, am I?

I’m kidding, of course. There will be some long term repercussions from this, with particularly fierce impact on smaller, rural airports. Those funds are required for repairs, construction and some scheduled maintenance items. It may seem like a short term, happy tax holiday for travelers, but the bill is going to come due sooner or later. (And we’re talking about the government here, so you already know who gets to pay that bill, right?) And since the Senate seems to have left town, it’s not going to get resolved overnight.

Just another example of congressional action and efficiency at work!