Payne, Menendez, Booker, Sires Call on TSA to Address Newark Airport Security Delays

Feb 11, 2016 Issues: Economy and Jobs

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) was joined by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08) in calling on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to address staffing issues at Newark Liberty International Airport amid significant delays at security check points during peak travel times, including unusually long delays this past holiday season. In a letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, the lawmakers expressed concern over TSA’s ability to allocate the necessary resources at Newark Liberty to efficiently address passenger needs.

“Newark Airport contributes nearly $23 billion in economic activity to the New Jersey- New York metropolitan region, generating roughly 162,000 total jobs and $8.3 billion in annual wages and salaries,” the lawmakers wrote. “Continued service issues jeopardize the competitiveness of the airport and therefore the jobs and economic impact that the airport brings to New Jersey. We would like to know what assurances you can provide us that sufficient resources will be allocated to quickly and efficiently expand the Agency’s staff at Newark Airport.”

The full text of the letter follows:

February 11, 2016

The Honorable Peter Neffenger

Administrator

Transportation Security Administration

601 South Twelfth Street

Arlington, VA 20598-6001

Dear Administrator Neffenger:

We write today in regard to a growing concern over the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) allocation of resources at Newark Liberty International Airport. As you know, passengers at Newark Airport were subjected to unusually long delays at security checkpoints this past holiday season, and continue to face significant delays during peak travel times. We understand that several factors may have contributed to the delays, and we appreciate that you are working to address many of them. Last year’s shift in the TSA screening procedure, an increase in passenger volume, the addition of high capacity flights from area airports, and typical staffing challenges outside of TSA’s control all likely played a part in delays that at times exceeded 60 minutes and led to hundreds of missed flights and disgruntled travelers. However, we are concerned that TSA has not adequately acknowledged and addressed significant staffing concerns.

The transition away from the Managed Inclusion II program in September has reportedly resulted in increased wait times for security lines nation-wide. Additionally, Newark Airport’s unique layout presents distinct challenges to ensuring adequate staffing at multiple terminals. We are confident that Newark Airport’s Federal Security Director and his team are working to the best of their ability with the resources available to them while never compromising on the safety and security of Newark Airport travelers. However, in anticipation of the approaching “spring break” travel season and the ensuing summer months, we hope to ensure that TSA resources meet current and future needs at Newark Airport to avoid delays similar to those experienced this past December.

Newark Airport contributes nearly $23 billion in economic activity to the New Jersey- New York metropolitan region, generating roughly 162,000 total jobs and $8.3 billion in annual wages and salaries. Continued service issues jeopardize the competitiveness of the airport and therefore the jobs and economic impact that the airport brings to New Jersey. We would like to know what assurances you can provide us that sufficient resources will be allocated to quickly and efficiently expand the Agency’s staff at Newark Airport. Please inform our offices on what more can be done to ensure the efficient movement of passengers through security checkpoints while maintaining the exceptional safety record at the airport, and how our offices can be helpful in accomplishing this goal.  We appreciate your time and attention to this matter and look forward to your response. Thank you for your continued efforts to protect the traveling public and the passengers at Newark Airport.

                                                            Sincerely,

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