Canadian air traffic controllers are carrying out a simple, but heartfelt gesture for their American counterparts — they’re buying them dinner amidst the U.S. government shutdown.
Air traffic controllers (ATC) in Moncton, N.B. and Gander, Nfld. sent pizza over to controllers manning the stations at the New York Air Traffic Control Center (ZNY), in Ronkonkom, N.Y., on Friday night in support of their colleagues who are working unpaid as the American government’s partial shutdown drags into its fourth week.
A photo of a sign hung up in New York Center which said that 32 pizzas had been ordered by the Canadians was posted on Reddit by user PlatinumAero, whose real name is David Lombardo.
Lombardo, who runs the Facebook page ATC Memes and is a partner on the ATC merch website radarcontact.com, used to work at New York Center and continues to have close contact with air traffic controllers across the United States.
He told HuffPost Canada that the picture was sent to him from one of the controllers who is working at the ZNY during the shutdown. He explained that Canadian and American air traffic controllers often work closely together.
“In many cases these are radar control facilities buying for the neighbouring sector facility,” Lombardo said.
The outpouring of support isn’t ending yet though — Lombardo said Winnipeg Tower is sending dinner to Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport’s tower on Sunday night, and already covered Grand Forks’ lunch on Saturday.
Another Reddit user commented on Lombardo’s thread and said they received an email from the Toronto union noting that the pizzas are an initiative taking place at centres across the country.
“As a gesture of solidarity with our fellow American controllers, we will be sending pizza to the Cleveland Center controllers for dinner. They are in the middle of the government shutdown and as of yesterday did not receive their pay cheques,” the email allegedly said. “All the ACC’s across the country will be buying pizzas for their adjacent centres.”
HuffPost Canada has reached out to the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association to confirm.
Lombardo, who lives in Long Island, N.Y., told HuffPost Canada the shutdown is pushing some people towards desperate measures like taking out loans, and that people have even messaged his ATC Memes page to ask him to share information on different loan programs.