By Stacey Leasca
January 14, 2019
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Craig Tuttle/Design Pics/Getty Images

The government shutdown is well into its third week and has now become the longest in U.S. history. While that is most certainly becoming problematic for government workers who continue to go unpaid, as well as the national parks that are going largely unmonitored, there is at least one piece of good news: Canada is stepping up to feed our air traffic controllers.

According to CNN, the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association was looking for a way to help out their American counterparts as they faced their first payday without a check. So, on Thursday, the CATCA's control center in Edmonton, Alberta, shared the idea of sending pizzas over the border to their friends in Anchorage, Alaska.

From left: David Heady, Julie Lytle and James Scott enjoy pizza sent by their Canadian counterparts at the Montcon Center.
Chris Presley and Steve Schefcik via PWM ATCT

Other units heard about the plan and started to order pizzas for their friends across the border as well, including random stations who don’t even share air space. According to Peter Duffey, president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, one unit in Alberta even chose to send pizzas to a unit in El Paso, Texas, because both places happen to be oil towns. And the program really seems to be taking off. Since Thursday, CNN reported, more than 350 pizzas have been sent to 49 FAA units across the United States.

"In the big scheme of things, sending some pizzas to people that are missing paychecks is a small gesture," Duffey told CNN, "but the message that it sends them is a big gesture."

While it may also seem a bit frightening that FAA employees are going without pay, the governmental body released a statement on Twitter in December saying there is nothing to worry about, noting, "Air traffic control is fully operational and there is no impact to safety or FAA oversight for travelers."

And, on Friday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association took things into their own hands and filed a lawsuit in a District of Columbia US District Court alleging the government has "unlawfully deprived NATCA members of their earned wages," according to CNN. The lawsuit, it added, is seeking a temporary restraining order as well as back payment for hours worked since the shutdown began.