Orlando International Airport Could Move to Replace TSA with Private Screeners

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be holding briefings tomorrow for airline and airport officials following word that Orlando International Airport (MCO) is considering replacing TSA screeners with a private company. With the airport handling almost 45 million passengers last year, already long security lines are even longer, so both sides agree that a change needs to be made. MCO02 Jerry Henderson, a TSA federal security director, insists that their operation at MCO is "the most efficient TSA screening operation in the nation," receiving high marks from travelers, and that the airport just needs to provide the extra space for 19 additional security lanes. Currently passengers are funneled through two back-to-back checkpoints, with virtually no room to expand. Airport director Phil Brown says that some of the reason for the increased traffic at the security lines is that very few of the passengers using MCO are on connecting flights, with most leaving or arriving in Orlando, owed in part to the city's thriving tourist-based economy. Airport officials, however, feel that that there are "diminished levels of passenger service," part of which is tied to TSA's efficiency. Brown adds that nothing has been decided yet, but "we looked at this three years ago, and we've continued to look at it....it's time to bring it back up." Frank Kruppenbacher, chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said in a meeting last month that a vote regarding the TSA situation would be coming. The airport authority's next meeting is on February 21st. Currently there are no airports as large as MCO that operate with private screeners, so how any change would play out is unknown. It would likely "involve a lot of federal bureaucracy and would still leave TSA in charge of picking and managing private security." Meanwhile, MCO is working to expand ticket lobbies which will increase the airport's capacity even further, with the airport possibly hitting 46 million passengers annually very soon. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, who toured the airport with Brown, declined to comment on the situation. Source/Images: Orlando Sentinel


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