|Photo by Freeimages.com/Craig Toocheck|
Over the next two days, two hearings will take place on Capitol Hill to address the increasingly long lines and security issues currently facing U.S. airports.
On Wednesday, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator Peter Neffenger will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security on his plans to deal with the challenges at TSA. On Thursday, the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation Security subcommittee will hear from local officials serving on the front lines at airports, airlines and aviation executives on the frustratingly long security lines.
Michael W. McCormick, executive director and COO of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), has issued the following statement in which he calls on TSA, Congress and the industry to work together in a collective effort to fix the current state of airport security, ensuring safe and efficient air travel:
“For several months, GBTA has been warning its members of tighter airport security and increasingly long security lines that would not necessarily bring added security. The devastation we saw in Brussels underscores the fact that forcing people to queue up in long lines to go through security could actually be setting up soft targets for terrorists.
But we are far beyond the time for finger pointing. Congress, the TSA, the travel industry and travelers themselves must come together as we embark on the busy summer travel season.
It is well known that TSA is understaffed. But the agency must do a better job of utilizing the staff available and to better manage its resources. Local TSA officials need the flexibility and agility to manage security lines hour by hour. And TSA headquarters needs to ensure the officers on the ground have the intelligence and planning abilities to address security threats.
For their part, airports and airlines deserve credit for taking proactive steps to manage queues and for hiring contractors to help assist TSA personnel with non-screening functions.
Finally, travelers must be cognizant of the strain on the system and do everything in their power to help move travel along. Every frequent traveler must enroll in PreCheck.
As we work through the immediate crisis, TSA must begin to develop long-term solutions. GBTA strongly believes in risk-based programs and supports ways to expand enrollment in TSA’s PreCheck program. The House and Senate have both embraced this plan, but the different vehicles for passage are being held up. GBTA has called on Congress to include this language in the FAA Reauthorization and to pass it without further delay.
TSA, Congress and the air travel industry must address this as an all-hands-on-deck response as we all need to share the responsibility of supporting the efforts necessary to protect one of our nation’s most valued assets: safe and secure air travel.”