Federal officials will add more than 200 workers at the three major New York City-area airports this summer in a bid to reduce long security screening lines, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday.
The Transportation Security Administration will add more than 750 officers nationwide to shorten waiting times during this summer’s busy travel period, said Schumer (D-N.Y.).
LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports have each been allocated an additional 72 officers, for a total of 216 new officers in the New York City area, he said.
“These new agents are desperately needed to speed up brutally long security lines now plaguing our airports,” he said in a news release.
“We need them on duty ASAP — especially at JFK and LaGuardia — to ward off the ‘flypocalypse’ that will ensue when the busy summer travel season begins,” he said.
TSA said in an email later Thursday, which did not mention Schumer’s news release, that it was speeding up the hiring of 768 officers by advancing their start date to May from September.
The agency said Congress recently freed up $34 million in agency funds, and TSA would use $26 million of that to increase the hours worked by front-line officers, including increased overtime and increased part-time hours.
The agency said it has 36,263 full-time and 9,822 part-time officers.
The union representing the screeners, the American Federation of Government Employees, called last week for the hiring of 6,000 additional workers to reduce the waiting time for passengers.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) and others said this month that those three airports were severely short-staffed and waits were growing at security checkpoints. At Kennedy, for example, waits grew by 82 percent between March 15 and April 15 of this year, compared to the same period last year, the letter said.
Elected officials have also called for airlines to waive bag-checking fees to speed travelers, but industry officials said there were no data to show that charging a fee to check a bag increases wait times.