The Transportation Security Admission (TSA) held briefings on Wednesday in response to the Orlando International Airport considering removing federal screeners in favor of private workers.
According to TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz, while meeting the requirement to be neutral in tone, the overall message of the briefings will be that TSA screeners have performed well, received high marks from travelers and that delays arise from the airport being too cramped for more security lines.
“We need the airport to provide space for 19 additional lanes to process people in an even more timely manner,” said Jerry Henderson, a TSA federal security director. “But even working with this extreme deficit in space, TSA’s operation at Orlando International is the most efficient TSA screening operation in the nation.”
MCO is currently facing their biggest issues to date as it has surpassed Miami International as the busiest airport in the state. Currently Orlando International is the 13th busiest airport in the county, handling 44.6 million passengers last year.
According to airport director Phil Brown, the driving force behind this volume “is Central Florida’s economy,” and that most travelers are arriving or leaving the area and not just using the airport for connecting flights to other destinations. Officials at the Orlando airport have said that crowding from more passengers so far this year has resulted in diminished levels of passenger service at peak operational periods. Work is currently being done to expand ticket lobbies to boost airport capacity.
All outbound travelers go through two checkpoints, one of which is tight on space. This is adding to the airports issues and is linked to TSA’s ability to efficiently screen passengers.
“We will be agend-ing for the February meeting a formal vote on whether we decide to opt out or not opt out,” said Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher. “I’m giving everybody notice at this point so that everybody is well aware of what we are looking at.”
What the move to private security would mean for those traveling to and from Orlando is unknown as it has never been done in an airport of comparable size. It would entail a lot of federal bureaucracy and TSA would remain responsible for picking and managing private security.
Established in 2001 after the terror attacks, TSA has been a standard in airports and no large airports have chosen to replace federal screeners with private workers. But as TSA was being created, private security was established at five airports, including those in Kansas City, Mo., and San Francisco.
In 2015, Sanford’s airport made the switch to private security in 2015 – although they seen only a fraction of the passengers at Orlando International does – with about 3 millions visitors annually.
Source: Orlando Sentinel
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