Partnering for Security

FirstLine Transportation Security has expanded its services in a federally dominated industry through the Screening Partnership Program.

With passenger volume and airports continuing to grow, Smedile says, TSA has turned to the program as a more viable option. “They have been looking for ways to address all those needs and I think we are now coming to a point where the TSA more readily sees this as another opportunity, an option to use the program to help meet that particular challenge,” he says. “That’s why we are seeing more of an interest all the way around with the smaller airports as opposed to the larger airports, which is where we thought the initial interest would be. Not to say that larger airports are not interested in the program, because they are, we see that around the country but the smaller airports are a good example of where this program is being put to good use.”

There are numerous reasons airports haven’t chosen to participate, according to Debby McElroy, executive vice president, policy and external affairs at Airports Council International — North America. A lack of incentive has proved a major deterrent. “In a survey that we conducted, there were a variety of reasons why the airports were not moving to SPP. Most of the airports were satisfied by the services by TSA,” she says. “The way the program is currently structured, there weren’t advantages to moving to the SPP program.”

Without substantial interest by large airports, the program has gone in a different direction — servicing smaller community airports that have no federal security. “What we’re seeing is SPP transitioning to a program to allow TSA to accommodate new requests for commercial airline service without putting in their own employees,” she says.

Though momentum has been slow for the SPP program, Smedile has remained confident it will continue to grow. “We think that there is a future with the program,” he says. “The TSA seems to show that as well, because of the way they’re increasingly utilizing the program to meet the demands that they have.”

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