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All bets are disabled for the Super Bowl shutdown impact


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Of Dareh Gregorian

When it comes to Super Bowl LIII, air traffic controllers fly blind.

Stopping the government has already led to canceled planning meetings for the February 3 Atlanta game, and if the federal budget stalemate continues, airport controllers and flight controllers from the world's busiest airport will work on the day of the game without the payment.

Dan McCabe, a representative of the National Air Traffic Control Association, told NBC News that his colleagues met in the past year to prepare for an increase in the number of passengers in the area. But now the planning meetings, which included officials from its union, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Football League, were grounded.

"As soon as the closure took place, these meetings ceased to happen," McCabe said. As a result, controllers feel less prepared than they would want to anticipate 1500 additional flights per day in the area during the Super Bowl week.

"When we work on something as big as the Super Bowl – the biggest spectator event in the country – gives us a lot of time to plan additional airplanes and traffic," McCabe said. "We will keep the event safe, but we want it to be a good event for everyone. It is frustrating that I know it will not be as good as it could be."

The impact of the closure has already been exposed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Travelers say they have been forced to wait on security lines for up to three hours due to a shortage of transport safety administration agents who have also worked unpaid.

"Obviously, we are in an unexplored territory with the closure that has passed this long time, and we prepare our best from our point of view," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Tuesday.

Typically, 60,000 to 80,000 passengers are monitored daily at Hartsfield-Jackson, show airport statistics. While airport traffic is expected to increase for the entire week before the game, about 110,000 passengers are expected to leave the airport a day after they have told about Bottoms "The Exodus of Mass Monday".

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks at a press conference on January 4, 2018, in Atlanta.David Goldman / AP file

Safe protection

If the closure – now on an unprecedented day 27 – continues, federal security watchkeepers at the event will also work without pay.

The Department of Homeland Security is strongly committed to maintaining the event safely against terrorism and other threats, working with the NFL, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies.

This includes the staff of the Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Application and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. All these agencies were hit by stopping – just like the FBI.

"I'm not sure how they will do it," said Tim Bradley, a security expert at IMG GlobalSecur. "How do I even pay for these agents to travel there if they have no funding?"

DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton did not answer this question when asked by NBC, but said: "The current government funding period will have no effect on our commitment to ensuring a safe and secure event ".

"The Department is extremely serious about the security of high-risk events such as the Super Bowl, and we continue to carry out our responsibility to protect and support our local public safety partners for this event," Houlton said.

Atlanta police chief Erika Shields told reporters earlier this week that her department is planning to play for two years.

"Our goal is for our officers to be visible so that the public feels safe, safe and able to position us so that we can immediately react to any scenario we face," Shields said. "I think with all that you can enter with a spirit of trust if you prepare and prepare us well."

But closure came as a surprise and paid a fee for the workers prepared for the event, McCabe said.

"The morale is as low as I've seen in the 13 years with the FAA," he said. "It's absolutely terrible. Everyone in that building seems to lose their best friend," he said. "It's already a pretty stressful job."

Associated Press contributed.

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