Glacier airport unaffected by shutdown, director says

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Passengers wait in a concourse at Glacier Park International Airport on Wednesday, Oct. 17. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Tuesday marked the 18th day of the government shutdown, and while paychecks for thousands of federal employees have halted, security employees at Glacier Park International Airport remain unaffected, officials said.

According to Airport Director Robert Ratkowski, the airport does not receive any funding from the federal government. Instead, the airport has different funding mechanisms, including going through contractors separately funded by the government.

“We have not seen any significant impact,” Ratkowski said. “It’s not saying that we aren’t going to, and if that happens we will mitigate.”

Ratkowski said the airport could possibly be impacted in the longer term if the federal government decides to suspend payments to the airport’s contractors, which include Serco Inc. and Trinity Technology Group.

He was unable to comment on whether or not the contractors anticipate a cut-off to funding in the coming days. But Ratkowski said employees at Glacier Park International are receiving regular paychecks and airport operations have not been altered.

Other federal airport employees nationwide have not been so fortunate.

The list of airports affected by the shutdown has grown in recent weeks to include major facilities such as Los Angeles and Atlanta International Airports. These and others have reported instances such as higher wait times at security gates as Transportation Security Administration agents continue to go home, unpaid.

Although the government shutdown has not necessarily impacted employees at Glacier Park International, the impacts are felt in Glacier National Park where, according to a press release last month, emergency and rescue services have become limited in lieu of the shutdown.

According to the Associated Press, about 80 percent of the National Park Service workforce has been furloughed, or temporarily laid off, during the shutdown.

Currently, there appears to be no immediate end in sight to the government shutdown as President Trump continues to push for the $5.7 billion needed to fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyintelake.com

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