Federal officials are sending extra security screeners to beef up staffing at checkpoints at the airport in Newark, New Jersey.
A Transportation Security Administration spokesman confirmed the move Friday but didn’t give numbers. An airport official says TSA is sending 10 more people.
The move underscores TSA’s challenge in staffing airports during a partial government shutdown. Screeners missed paychecks last week, although they got $500 bonuses and some received pay for working the first day of the shutdown.
The move also comes at the start of a three-day holiday weekend that is expected to mean more travelers at the nation’s airports.
TSA says 6.4 percent of screeners missed work Thursday, compared with 3.8 percent on the comparable day last year. TSA indicates many employees say they can’t get to work because of financial limitations.
America’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, is a blur of activity on the best of days. But an extra layer of anxiety gripped the airport Friday, the eve of a three-day holiday weekend. The partial government shutdown — the longest ever — has thinned the ranks of federal workers who staff airport security lines. And some travelers had braced for the worst.
The scene at most of the nation’s airports has so far been marked more by concerned passengers showing up early than by missed flights. Yet concern is quickly growing.
President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress remain far apart over Trump’s insistence on funding for a wall along the Mexican border as the price of reopening the government. And the two sides are trading taunts and avoiding talks.
Newark had the fourth-longest maximum wait for screening Thursday, 29 minutes. Atlanta, Minneapolis and Seattle had longer waits.