Removing Security Screening from Airports?
There have been several reports in the news lately of airports across the country having their security screening equipment removed by the TSA. This is actually pretty common as long as TSA is the owner of the equipment. Prior to 9/11 various entities were responsible for screening and for purchasing screening equipment. The airlines would often buy what they felt was needed, but if the airport wanted more machines than the airlines were willing to pay, then the airport would be footing the bill.
In 1996, as part of the Gore Commission recommendations, airports were required to purchase the Explosive Detection Systems and Explosive Trace Detectors; I remember actually picking out which ETD’s to buy when I was the assistant ASC at Denver International Airport.
In this case, the airport has lost it’s commercial service, which means the FAA has decided that the airport has fewer than 2,500 annual passenger enplanements (boardings of paying passengers). The FAA does not make such decisions lightly and will often give airports years to rebuild their air carrier service before declaring that the airport is no longer a commercial airport.
When an commercial service airport is no longer a commercial service airport, it becomes a General Aviation airport. Since GA airports are not presently required to have screeners or screening equipment, the move on it’s face does not seem to have a big impact. The downside however, is that when the airport is attempting to entice new air carrier service, it’s always nice to see that the airport has the equipment necessary for the job instead of waiting on a TSA purchase order to replace the equipment.
If I was that airport manager, I would be upset at the move, although I would also understand why it’s being done. If I’m showing off my airport to attract service I’d like to see some furniture in the place, just like Realtors like to see some furniture in a home that’s for sale — it increases the value.