Whoa! The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is considering closing its screening checkpoints at over 150 small- to medium-sized airports across the country, according to documents uncovered by CNN.
CNN cites internal documents from a “TSA working group” proposing cutting security screening at airports serving aircraft with fewer than 60 seats – namely, small regional jets.
The TSA responded with a statement published via its official Twitter account late Wednesday.
— Michael Bilello (@TSA_Bilello) August 1, 2018
If the plans play out, it will mark the end of the agencies outright control over commercial airport security. The changes at the TSA’s smallest staffed airports would affect about 10,000 passengers per day, or 0.5 percent of the flying public, CNN reports. At those small airports the TSA employs 1,299 people to cover those 10,000 passengers, a much lower ratio than the rest of the U.S. airport system.
The TSA has overseen security screening at all U.S. airports with regularly scheduled services since the agency was created following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, though the regulations that govern the agency don’t require them to screen every airport.
Prior to 2001, airport security was managed privately at most airports.
[Changes] could bring a “small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity.” The internal documents from June and July suggest the move could save $115 million annually, money that could be used to bolster security at larger airports.
TSA screens passengers at over 400 airports nationwide, small and very large. The proposed plan would screen arriving passengers at a larger hub if they plan to connect. The airport itself could also implement some type of security screening procedure.
The proposed changes would affect roughly 10,000 passengers each day – or about .5% of people flying in the U.S. on any given day – and over 1,200 TSA agents at the smaller airports.
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