Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smaller Orlando Airport Pushing to Evict TSA

The Orlando Sanford International Airport is renewing a push to replace the TSA with private security screeners, citing a new law championed by by House Republicans that would force the TSA to accede to such requests.

The law, signed by the president in February, was sponsored by Rep. John L. Mica, a friend of the private security industry and a Florida Republican who heads the House transportation committee.

Last year, the TSA denied applications by six small airports, including orlando Sanford, to opt out.

In a press conference yesterday, the airport president, Larry Dale, said that using private employers as screeners (under law, they would be supervised by the TSA) would provide a better "customer experience."

Only a handful of the 450 commercial airports have been allowed to replace TSA screeners with screeners working for private companies. San Francisco International is the most prominent among the airprots that received TSA approval to opt out.

Media reports on the move by the Orlando Sanford airport usually gloss over how small it is by comparison with Orlando International Airport. Some even seem not to understand the difference between the two.

Orlando Sanford had 1.3 million passengers in 2011, most of them flown by Allegiant Airlines, a low-cost airline that specializes in serving select leisure-travel markets with pricing that is often packaged along with hotels and other services. One of its other airlines, the charter company Direct Air, suspended service on Monday, stranding many passengers in Florida.

Orlando International Airport, which has not indicated a desire to evict the TSA, had 31.9 million passengers last year.


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