02.02.17

SCHUMER CALLS FOR TSA TO UPDATE BAGGAGE SCANNING EQUIPMENT AT BUFFALO NIAGARA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ASAP; THE CURRENT SYSTEM BREAKS FREQUENTLY, INCONVENIENCING PASSENGERS AND EMPLOYEES ALIKE AND INCREASING SAFETY CHALLENGES

Schumer Urges The TSA To Commit To An Expeditious And Clear Timeline For Critical Equipment Updates; Says Failures Are Causing Delays For Passengers And Employees

Given Recent Announcement Of Upgrades Coming To Other Parts of The Airport And Baggage Claim Area, It is Even More Important That TSA Do Their Part And Update this Critical Component

Schumer: The TSA Must Clear The Runway for Buffalo Niagara International Airport’s Equipment Upgrades

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged Acting Administrator Gowadia of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to expedite a plan to upgrade the Explosives Detection Systems (EDS) at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BNI). The TSA has failed to address this issue, despite repeated requests by the Airport to update and replace this essential equipment. Out-of-date machinery and software is causing backups in the checked bag system, and delaying passengers' luggage from reaching its destination. Continued delays in upgrades to the system jeopardizes Buffalo Niagara International Airport's ability to serve residents traveling out of Buffalo, as well as millions of visitors to Buffalo each year.

“Buffalo Niagara International Airport sees millions of passengers and tourists a year, and is an important part of Western New York’s economy. They simply must have the most up-to-date baggage checking equipment for the safe and efficient movement of passengers into and out of the airport. That is why I am urging the TSA to expedite these necessary upgrades and replacements to the airport’s Explosive Detection System. Updating these scanners is essential to ensuring passenger’s luggage reaches its destination efficiently. It is time to cut through the red tape, make these upgrades, and keep passengers safe from delays,” said Senator Schumer.

Schumer explained that out-of-date equipment creates a backlog for Buffalo Niagara passengers. Oftentimes luggage does not arrive at the same time as passengers to destinations causing inconveniences for travelers. The TSA has not committed to a specific timeline to fix and upgrade this equipment, and initial indications are that it could take a number of years, putting the 4.6 million visitors to BNI at risk of waiting for their luggage, as well as limiting the airport's ability to scan luggage on time.

Schumer has long been an advocate for aviation security, threat detection, and consumer protection. He has previously called on the TSA to hire more staff, install canine teams, and use other tools to help improve security and prevent delays at New York State’s Airports.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to Acting Administrator Gowadia is included below:

Dear [Acting] Administrator Gowadia,

I write to urge you to expedite the plans to upgrade the Explosives Detection Systems (EDS) that provide screening and enhanced security for checked baggage at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.  The Buffalo Niagara International Airport reports that the scanners repeatedly break down and checked baggage frequently does not make the same flights as the owners. This results in interrupted passenger travel as owners wait at their destination for baggage to arrive on a different flight.

The TSA informed Buffalo Niagara International Airport that the agency intends to improve reliability of the scanners through a software upgrade, but the timeline for this upgrade is unclear and could be delayed for a year or two. The agency's ongoing maintenance work to correct inefficiencies is proving insufficient, particularly during the busy holiday travel season, as multiple scanners are often completely out of service at the same time which increases the time it takes to scan checked baggage.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport serves over 4.6 million passengers annually and actively works to deliver high quality customer service and satisfaction. Upgrading the Airport’s checked baggage scanners, originally installed ten-years ago, is essential to ensuring passengers and their bags arrive at their destinations safely and with their owners. Buffalo continues to take important steps to ensure safe and quality travel, and that is why I urge the TSA to upgrade the Buffalo Niagara International Airport EDS as soon as possible to ensure checked baggage make it on to the same flights as the owners.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer

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