Schumer: TSA to hire more than 200 officers to speed ‘outrageous’ NYC airport lines
To avert summer ‘flypocalypse’
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will hire more than 200 workers at the three major New York City-area airports this summer to help alleviate nightmarish security line wait times, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer announced Thursday.
He said the move would help prevent a summertime “flypocalypse.”
LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Airports have each been allocated an additional 72 screeners, for a total of 216 officers. Across the country, the TSA is taking on more than 750 additional officers.
Schumer pushed for more security agents earlier this month after the summer flying season started with what he called “outrageously long security lines” at area airports. He also urged the feds to increase the number of passenger-screening canine teams at NYC airports.
“These new agents are desperately needed to speed-up brutally long security lines now plaguing our airports. We need them on duty ASAP – especially at JFK and LaGuardia – to ward off the ‘flypocalypse’ that will ensue when the busy summer travel season begins,” Schumer said in a statement.
Long lines have already snarled travel plans. In a May 4th letter to the TSA Administrator, the Port Authority’s aviation security office described an 82 percent increase in waiting times at JFK Airport during the month ending April 15.
American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein told CNN that tens of thousands of customers have missed their flights and thousands of checked bags have been delayed due to low staffing.
New York City airports are among the busiest in the country. According to the Port Authority, 126 million air travelers fly through city airports each year.
This summer’s traveling season is expected to hit an all-time high, with more than 231 million passengers in the skies, according to a report from Airlines for America (A4A), an industry trade group. That’s a 4 percent increase from last summer’s 222 million passengers – which was also an all-time high.
A4A encouraged TSA, which has experienced a 10 percent drop in front-line agents this year, to quickly hire and train new staff. It is expected that the new agents will be in place by mid-June.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson encouraged passengers to enroll in PreCheck, which allows eligible travelers to go through security without removing their shoes, laptops, or travel-sized liquids. The application process is time-consuming and requires a trip to the airport, however.
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