The recent shutdown of the federal government had no noticeable impact on the operations at Vero Beach Regional Airport, where Transportation Security Administration employees and air traffic controllers continued to work despite not getting paychecks.
“It really didn’t affect us at all,” Airport Director Eric Menger said. “The TSA agents and air traffic controllers here are very dedicated people, and they just kept showing up and diligently doing the outstanding job they always do.
“They all knew in the backs of their minds that they were going to get paid eventually, but I’m sure there was some additional stress,” he added. “We’re all glad it’s over.”
The TSA assigns six to eight people to Vero Beach to provide security and screening for the airport’s lone commercial carrier, Elite Airways, which, at the current time, operates one flight to and from Newark, N.J., on Mondays and Fridays.
TSA agents here work only the departing flights each week.
“Elite already had reduced its schedule to two days a week here, so that helped minimize the impact,” Menger said, adding that he expects the airline to again add flights connecting Vero Beach to Asheville, N.C., and Portland, Me., in April.
“I know many of our passengers talked to the TSA agents and thanked them for what they were doing at a challenging time,” he added. “From what I was told, the agents’ overtime hours were eliminated during the shutdown, so you didn’t see them hanging around.
“When they were done with their shifts here, they had to go work at other airports.”
Menger said about 15 different air traffic controllers work at the Vero Beach airport, but only three or four are here at any one time.
“They’re up there, doing their duty and operating as usual,” Menger said. “We were lucky: Even with the weather up north, Elite’s flights were pretty much on time.”