ATLANTA (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss said he has been meeting with the Transportation Security Administration and is working on a compromise over its plan to cut more than 300 security screeners at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
After a tour of the airport Monday, Chambliss, R-Ga., said the TSA's current plan to reduce screeners is ''simply unacceptable.''
Travelers at the airport should not have to stand in line for more than 20 minutes during peak times, Chambliss said. In July, wait times often lasted 40 minutes or more.
The TSA says it can increase efficiency at the Atlanta airport and will hire more part-time workers. But the agency has had trouble hiring part-timers in the past, airport general manager Ben DeCosta said.
The airport saw more than 7.7 million passengers in May _ higher than the predicted 7.6 million _ and more than 8 million in June. Unless the TSA ends its hiring freeze in Atlanta, DeCosta has warned the airport will not be fully staffed for Labor Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas.
TSA spokesman Christopher White said the number of airport screeners topped out at 1,400 last spring, and that over the next few months the TSA expects to reduce that to 1,061 through attrition.
The cuts are part of a broad staffing adjustment at many airports. Some of the airports will end up with more staff than before, and others with less as the agency tries to work within a congressionally mandated employment ceiling.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press
DeCosta said he has asked the TSA to justify cutting positions and will seek help from Georgia's congressional delegation if necessary.
Screener shortages make lines longer.
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