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Isakson, Chambliss Demand Explanation Of Proposal to Cut Screening Jobs At Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta

Location: Washington, DC

Isakson, Chambliss Demand Explanation Of Proposal to Cut Screening Jobs At Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) today called on the Transportation Security Administration to explain why it is considering cutting as many as 300 screeners from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Isakson said: "These cuts would basically shut down the busiest airport in the U.S., and that would have a horrible domino effect on the rest of our airports around the country. Senator Chambliss and I are demanding some answers and I am hopeful we will convince TSA to rethink these cuts."

Chambliss said: ""Hartsfield-Jackson is one of the busiest airports in the South, and is a vital airport for the South and the nation. The hard working TSA agents at Hartsfield-Jackson screen enormous numbers of passengers every day, and the number of passengers using Hartsfield-Jackson will only increase. Reducing the number of TSA agents at Hartsfield-Jackson will have a devastating effect on air travel, and Senator Isakson and I will make a strong case to TSA about this important issue."

Below is the text of a letter Senators Chambliss and Isakson sent to TSA regarding this issue.

April 12, 2005

The Honorable David M. Stone
Assistant Secretary
Transportation Security Administration
601 South 12th Street
Arlington, VA 22202-4220

Dear Admiral Stone,

We understand from recent reports in the media that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to cut as many as 400 screeners at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) by the end of September of 2005. Hartsfield-Jackson is expecting their busiest summer ever and this kind of decision will greatly impact the quality of customer service delivered to customers, the type of security that can be provided for them, as well as the problem of overcrowding at the world's busiest airport. With traffic increasing from 79 million passengers in 2003 to 84 million in 2004 and an expected 89 million this year, it makes no sense to make any cuts in the number of screeners at this airport.

We are especially concerned that these cuts would occur at a time when both Air Tran and Delta are making significant increases to their schedules at Hartsfield-Jackson. Delta, for example, is increasing their schedule to over 1,000 flights per day and is based on a continuous flow of arrivals and departures. These scheduling increases coupled with a steady increase in passengers using Hartsfield-Jackson necessitate that TSA at Hartsfield-Jackson be fully staffed and ready to meet the needs of customers using the airport. At a time when passenger levels are returning to, and even surpassing, pre-9/11 levels, we need to ensure that TSA staffing cuts do not prevent this continued growth.

While we understand that the TSA should be committed to providing the best possible security and customer service to all who pass through the security screening process, and to furthering the economic recovery of the aviation industry, you indicated in May 2004 that TSA is committed to working with ATL on growth plans. We would like you to know that we adamantly oppose any decision that would result in fewer numbers of TSA screeners at Hartsfield. This kind of decision would be disastrous for the wait-times that have recently improved at Hartsfield, and for financial and customer service arenas of the aviation industry in Georgia and across the country. We want to work with you to ensure that we help alleviate excessive wait-times, thereby permitting passengers to pass through the security checkpoint in a reasonable amount of time while simultaneously strengthening passenger and airport security.

Securing our airports is an issue of vital importance and we share your desire to see that the highest measure of security is provided to the American public. We would appreciate your immediate attention and look forward to your expedited response.

Very Truly Yours,

Saxby Chambliss
United States Senate

Johnny Isakson
United States Senate

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