06:38 AM

DFW Airport Urges Congress To Finish Critical Legislation Giving Tsa Flexibility On Bag Screening Deadline

143 Airports Representing 74 Percent Of Passengers Sign Letter As TSA's Deadline Looms

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (November 12, 2002) – DFW International Airport is one of 143 airports, representing 74 percent of passengers across the U.S., that signed a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to provide the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with critically needed flexibility for the impending December 31, 2002 baggage screening deadline. The airports signing the letter handle 462 million passengers across the United States.

The letter was sent to lawmakers today as they returned to Washington to finalize pending legislation before the end of the year. The TSA now has just 50 days left to meet its deadline, and has already acknowledged it will not be able to fully staff and screen checked baggage at a number of the major airports around the country.

"Our nation's airports have been very candid and straightforward with Congress for a number of months. It's now getting down to the wire to fix a problem that could have severe consequences to the traveling public and the airline system at a time when neither can afford it," says Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW. "We are cautiously optimistic that Congress will positively address the issue, but the window of opportunity is closing."

In the letter, airport executives explain if the TSA is forced to meet the current baggage screening deadline, it would impose intrusive, interim security measures that will be largely ineffective, resulting in serious implications to customer service, airport facilities, passengers’ willingness to travel and, ultimately, the national economy.

The letter then details the consequences of these interim measures that will force the TSA to squeeze both screening equipment and personnel into already-congested ticket lobbies: resulting in very long lines, long waits and, most importantly, an environment where travelers may be vulnerable to another terrorist attack. Airport directors suggest that the TSA should be given the flexibility to address the deadline issue on a case-by-case basis at those facilities where it needs more time to get the right solution in place the first time.

Prior testimony before several Congressional committees has also outlined that checked baggage screening is more thorough than ever, and will continue to improve as the TSA ramps up with sufficient budget, manpower, and technology.

Both the House and Senate have passed legislation that allows the TSA greater flexibility to work out a comprehensive plan with airports to keep security tight and customer service at a high level. The House included a flexibility provision in H.R. 5005, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, giving the TSA a one-year extension at the nation’s 429 commercial service airports. The Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation followed suit, passing a similar flexibility provision in S. 2949, the Aviation Security Improvement Act for up to 40 airports. The full Senate has yet to consider the measure.

"We appreciate the leadership of the North Texas delegation on this issue, and they have made it clear this is not a DFW issue, but a systemwide problem that could cause serious delays at every airport in America," says Fegan. "The clock is indeed ticking."

DFW has worked closely with the Airport Alliance, and with airport industry groups American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA) to educate and inform Congress on the severe implications to airports if the TSA is not granted relief. 

Located halfway between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, DFW International Airport is the world's third busiest, offering nearly 2,000 flights per day and serving 55 million passengers a year. DFW International Airport provides non-stop service to 130 domestic and 31 international destinations worldwide.

Editor's Notes: This release, and past news releases issued by DFW International Airport, are available online at www.dfwairport.com in the “MediaSite” section.

For the latest news, real-time flight information, parking availability or details regarding the many services provided at DFW International Airport, log on to www.dfwairport.com. To arrange interviews contact DFW Public Affairs at 972 574 NEWS (6397) or Ken Capps, APR, Vice President Public Affairs, kcapps@dfwairport.com.