TSA shuts door on private airport screening program
A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was “neutral” on the program.
TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.
Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have “opted out” of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.
The push to “opt out” gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA’s enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.
Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, wrote a letter encouraging airports to privatize their airport screeners, saying they would be more responsive to the public.
At that time, the TSA said it neither endorsed nor opposed private screening.
“If airports chose this route, we are going to work with them to do it,” a TSA spokesman said in late December.
But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement, Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.