The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will introduce enhanced security measures to screen airport and airline employees before granting them access to secure areas of the airport.
The announcement from the US Department of Homeland Security comes in the wake of the arrest of five people in a gun-smuggling operation that involved passenger jets travelling between Atlanta and New York City.
US senator Charles Schumer called on the TSA to immediately implement a national requirement for all airports to physically screen the employees.
Schumer said that while pilots and flight crew pass through metal detectors and other physical screening measures, employees who repair and clean planes, load luggage and work in the terminal post-security checkpoints are exempt from it.
Schumer said: "When guns, drugs, and even explosives are as easy to carry on board a plane as a neck pillow, then we have to seriously – and immediately – overhaul our airport security practices. In this day and age of terrorism, rampant drug dealing and gun smuggling, we just can’t be too careful.
"The vast majority of airline employees are good, hard-working people, however, in order to limit the chance of weapons and other dangerous contraband from making it into our overhead compartments, all airline employees should pass through metal detectors."
Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson said: "The ease by which airport employees are able to smuggle weapons and other contraband onto our commercial airliners is troubling and warrants immediate scrutiny and inspection. Our investigation, in cooperation with the NYPD and our federal law enforcement partners, identified gaping holes in our nation’s airport security.
"In this age of terrorism, basic protections such as screening airport employees, is critical to the safety of our country. Moreover, these loaded weapons were intended for the streets of New York where they could have been used to kill our residents or police officers.
"By screening everyone, not just passengers and flight crews, TSA will be able to identify and remove offending employees before they have the opportunity to spoil the whole apple cart."