Lawmakers address security delays at Newark Liberty airport
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Help is on the way to address long lines and long wait times for travelers at Newark Liberty Airport on the brink of the summer travel season.
The Transportation Security Administration announced Monday it is adding more than 100 agents at the airport by next month.
U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and fellow Democratic U.S. Pep. Albio Sires and Donald Payne Jr. announced the changes with TSA officials during a press conference at the airport.
As a combination of lower fares, more flights and a strong economy has boosted the numbers of people flying, two- and three-hour delays in security screening lines on domestic flights have drawn the ire of travelers.
“No person traveling in this country should be subjected to the wait times and the things they’ve been going through in order to travel,” Payne said, adding that even though he lives a few miles from the airport he has considered flying out of a different airport due to the delays.
The delays are partly due to a 10 percent cut in the number of screeners by the TSA and Congress in anticipation of more travelers using an expedited screening program, called PreCheck.
The TSA has committed to added nearly 800 agents at airports around the country this summer to address the problem. More than 10 percent of those will be at Newark, where 25 temporary agents already have started and another 95 will be on the job by next month and will remain there, Menendez said.
The TSA also wants to open a PreCheck center in Newark’s Terminal C so travelers can enroll there.
Menendez said he is continuing to lobby airlines to temporarily suspend checked baggage fees for the summer, a move he said would reduce security lines because more people would check bags rather than bring carry-ons through security. But he acknowledged lawmakers have little leverage to force airlines to do so, barring a Congressional re-regulation of the industry.