US Senators Gary Peters and Cory Gardner are set to introduce a bipartisan bill that aims to strengthen the safety and security for airport travellers and visitors outside of Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-screened areas.
The ‘Secure Airport Public Spaces Act’ empowers airports to use existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds for upgrading their security infrastructure such as pick up and drop off areas, in addition to baggage claims.
Peters said: “In recent years, we’ve seen a rising number of attacks that take place outside of TSA-screened areas. This bipartisan, commonsense legislation will give airports flexibility to address security vulnerabilities in public areas and safeguard passengers, visitors and staff.”
If the bipartisan legislation is approved into law, it will enable airports to spend Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) funds they have already collected on airport infrastructure projects that increase security.
According to the provisions of the new bill, PFC can be spent on projects to improve perimeter security by adding fencing and barricades. It can also be used to improve responses to active shooter threats by deploying active shooter location technology and ballistic protective podiums, which protect officers while storing rifles to help counter an attack.
Additionally, the bill will allow airports to invest Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds on installing surveillance cameras in public areas such as baggage claims or pick up and drop off areas.
Airports Council International—North America president and CEO Kevin Burke said: “Airports face over $100bn in infrastructure needs through 2021, and the majority of those needs are terminal-development projects designed to support new capacity and security upgrades.
“With a constantly evolving security landscape, the new Peters-Gardner bill would help ensure that more of these important security projects are eligible for funding through federal grants and local user fees.”
The move comes amid last year’s attacks at Fort Lauderdale Airport and Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, which underlined the vulnerabilities of unsecured public areas at airports.