Publisher's Column

With air traffic booming, 1.8 million passengers daily, from our nation’s airports and the issue of security at an all-time high, cutting airport funding would seem an unlikely notion. The Bush administration, though, has proposed cutting AIP by $500 million, which will be detrimental to airports who are already struggling with airport capacity, infrastructure improvement, and added security measures. It’s yet another reason airports are pressing to keep costs in line, while their largest tenants, the legacy airlines, are in dire straits.

The carriers are fighting their own battle against a TSA proposal that would double the federal security fee for passengers, to be used for screening systems. The airlines say the cost should be covered by the general fund, since it’s a matter of national security. A valid question is, How much improvement has TSA really made in airport security in the last three years? After taking over the screening process and the screeners themselves, breaches are still occurring in airports from people entering unauthorized areas, prohibited items getting through screening, fake badges being uncovered, and an ongoing concern about cargo screening.

To date, only two airports have applied to “opt out” and work with private screeners. Some of the reluctance to opt out is related to concerns over further funding cuts and liability issues.

While there may be no way of proving at the present time if private screening companies are more effective, in most cases private firms are more responsive and accountable to their customers.

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Many events and conferences this year have been upbeat, with a focus on the future. This was no less true for the first annual Airfield Operations Area Expo & Conference, hosted by AIRPORT BUSINESS in April.

We found there’s a need for a targeted operations and maintenance conference. Watch for it next spring in Milwaukee.