The Transporation Security Administration, more commonly referred to as the TSA, is facing a revolt by some of the country’s biggest and most traveled airports.
Airports in New York and New Jersey have threatened in the last week to replace the US government agency with private contractors. Both airports say “abysmal” performance from the TSA was leading to longer than expected boarding times for passengers.
The promise to replace the TSA if conditions are not improved arrive just two months after officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport threatened similar action. That’s bad news for the TSA as Atlanta’s airport is the busiest in the world.
The Port Authority is responsible for operating JFK International and LaGuardia airports in New York and Newark Liberty International in New Jersey.
All airports involved in the complaints are arguing that the TSA must streamline its processes and add new workers to its roster to improve traveler conditions.
The letter was signed by Port Authority aviation director Thomas Bosco and chief security officer Thomas Belfiore.
The letter says the airports in New York and New Jersey are far too understaffed. The letter says TSA checkpoints have increased wait times “dramatically in recent months, prompting angry complaints from passengers, terminal operators, and airlines alike citing inconvenience, delayed flights, and missed connections.”
“The experience at Newark and LaGuardia has been similarly abysmal, and the patience of the flying public has reached a breaking point,” Bosco and Belfiore said. “Given the adverse customer service and economic impacts, we can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of TSA passenger screening services.”
Private security to replace TSA workers
The TSA is unable to increase the number of workers it hires because of a congressional cap.
Cities have the ability under the TSA’s Screening Partnership Program to consider the use of private-security.
Here’s the official statement from the TSA:
TSA’s primary focus is the current threat environment, as the American transportation system remains a high-value target for terrorists. Our strong economy means air carriers are enjoying record travel volume, which is resulting in heavier than normal volumes of travelers at our nation’s airports — some with double-digit increases over last summer. In addition to arriving at U.S. airports up to two hours prior to departure, we encourage travelers to enroll in TSA Pre✓® or other trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry, Nexus, or SENTRI, which improve security and reduce wait times. TSA is addressing the growing volume of travelers, with measures including more canine use, overtime, and accelerated hiring. We are appreciative that our airline partners are working with us by asking travelers to arrive at the airport as much as two hours early for domestic flights, which will help to alleviate some of the expected summer congestion. Traveler security is TSA’s first priority and we remain intensely focused on our important mission.
No further comments are being made by any of the involved parties at this time.