Passenger Screener Cutbacks at Portland Jetport Delayed

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Susan Collins, Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Department of Homeland Security including the Transportation Security Administration, announced today that a plan to eliminate 30 percent of the passenger and baggage screeners at the Portland International Jetport has been put on hold.

“I am pleased that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responding to my request to re-evaluate its earlier decision,” Collins said.

In a May 7th letter to Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, Collins pointed out that the proposed reduction for the Portland Jetport was based on outdated information. The cutbacks, which could have taken place as early as this month, would likely have shut down one of the Portland Jetport’s three passenger-screening lanes during Maine’s peak travel season. The scheduled cutbacks for Portland’s Jetport will be delayed until the TSA reviews up-to-date data to determine the need for the cutbacks and their effect on passenger travel.

The TSA plans to reduce the nation’s approximately 56,000 airport screeners by 6,000 workers. The Portland Jetport was scheduled to lose 30 of its 101 passenger and baggage screeners. Meanwhile, TSA is allowing 184 other U.S. airports to maintain and, in some cases, increase their existing workforces. On average, however, the workforce reduction is projected to be 12.6 percent per airport compared to Portland’s nearly 30 percent reduction.

“TSA’s original plan would have caused lengthy passenger delays,” Collins said. “I am optimistic that once TSA looks at the Jetport’s needs, it will understand the need to keep three screening lanes up and running.”