The Shutdown and What it Means for Business Travel

On Monday night, Federal agencies began the process of shutting down non-essential governmental operations. The length of the shutdown is unknown. In FY 1996, there were two shutdowns – one of five days and another of 21. To date, House Republicans have insisted on changes to the Affordable Care Act as a condition to continued governmental operations. The Democratic-led Senate and White House have opposed those conditions.

The shutdown will have impacts on business travel. Among others, these include:

  • Cancelled travel by federal employees and contractors – The most obvious and immediate impacts will be travel cancellations by federal employees. In addition, travel by federal contractors will likely be curtailed or cancelled.
  • Passports and Visas – While the processing of passports and visas should not be impacted in the short-term, a long-term delay may impact their issuance. In addition, passport services housed in a shuttered governmental building are likely to cease. During the shutdown in 1995-1996, 20,000 to 30,000 visa application per day went unprocessed as well as 200,000 U.S passport applications.
  • FAA – While air traffic controllers will remain on the job, safety inspectors will be furloughed.
  • AMTRAK – Train service will continue. However, a long-term shutdown will exhaust AMTRAK’s operating account and will lead to a shutdown of services.
  • Customs/Border Inspectors – Border agents and inspectors will remain on the job.
  • NextGen – FAA’s planning and implementation of NextGen programs have ceased.
  • PreCheck – It is not yet clear how DHS will process PreCheck applications although they will certainly be delayed.

GBTA issued a statement on the Federal Government shutdown today where Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said, “America’s economy can’t grow without a reliable system supporting business travel. U.S. business travel spending is expected to reach more than $273 billion this year, finally surpassing pre-recession levels. But a government shutdown will have rippling effects through the economy and severely impact the business travel industry. Every business trip cancelled results in permanently lost travel industry revenues, decreased future employment rates and lost economic benefit to our country. Enough is enough. The United States must remain open for business.” Read the full statement.


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