Port Authority threatens to hire private security for Newark airport
It’s a problem that keeps dragging on and on and on.
For the past few months, travelers at Newark Liberty International Airport have been complaining about long lines at security checkpoints, but nothing has changed.
Now, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has sent the Transportation Security Administration a letter threatening to hire a private security staff at Newark Liberty and the New York area airports unless wait times are cut.
“We can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of TSA passenger screening services, long waits are prompting complaints from passengers, terminal operators, and airlines alike," the Port Authority says.
According to Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA is reaching out to Congress to get permission to shift funds around “to increase the number of TSA officers.
"We’re hoping that will help mitigate long wait times at checkpoints.”
She also said the money would be used “to hire officers, it would be used to increase the amount of overtime, which would increase the amount of part-time hours, so basically we’d have more TSA officers working at the checkpoints.
"We’ve also asked for some of that money to be used to accelerate the hiring of officers. We were hoping to have them in place by September and now we’re hoping to accelerate that so we’d have them in place by the end of the month.”
Farbstein said the strengthening economy means “carriers are enjoying a record number of people traveling, resulting in heavier than normal volume at the airports, so we’re asking passengers to get to the airport two hours in advance.”
She explained in previous years that the TSA had requested fewer officers, partly because more people were enrolling in TAS PreCheck, an expedited screening program for a fee, but now “we’ve asked Congress if we can reallocate some money so we can hire more officers.”
According to security expert Vincent Bove, hiring a private security company for Newark Liberty Airport could possibly be a benefit because “we need improvement along every level of security, in the public and private sector.”
“The Port Authority should be commended if they’re asking the TSA to raise their level of professionalism,” he said.
Bove stressed if there’s an issue at Newark Liberty the situation needs to be reviewed and assessed so it can be improved.
“If it is bringing in private companies to make it more competitive and more demanding and more secure then we have to do everything it takes,” he said. “Some private security companies do extraordinary jobs hardening soft targets and if the TSA can learn from private security, let it be.”
Port Authority officials declined to comment for this report.