National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative Dan McCabe insisted Thursday that the Super Bowl will be kept safe despite the current government shutdown.
In an interview with Dareh Gregorian of NBC News, McCabe said: "When we work on something as big as the Super Bowl—the biggest spectator event in the country—it takes us a lot of time to plan on extra airplanes and traffic. We're going to keep the event safe, but we want it to be an enjoyable event for everybody. It's frustrating that I know it won't be as good as it could be."
Amid the shutdown, airport screeners and flight controllers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport may be forced to work without pay on the day of Super Bowl LIII.
Meetings are usually held ahead of the Super Bowl to ensure that airports in the host city are prepared for the influx of traffic, but McCabe noted that the meetings stopped once the shutdown began.
The 27-day shutdown is the longest in history, and McCabe explained that it has adversely impacted airport workers: "Morale is as low as I've seen it in 13 years with the FAA. It's absolutely terrible. Everybody in that building looks like they lost their best friend," he said. "It's already a stressful enough job."
Per Gregorian, the shutdown has already made things difficult at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the tune of passengers having to wait in line for as long as three hours in some instances to go through security screening.
While between 60,000 and 80,000 passengers are screened on a typical day at the airport, it is expected that 110,000 passengers will leave Atlanta the day after the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LIII will take place Feb. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with either the Kansas City Chiefs or New England Patriots facing either the New Orleans Saints or Los Angeles Rams.