COPPELL, Texas ( Associated Press) — The head of the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday that his agency has quadrupled the number of employees it could expect to ramp up screening operations this summer at overcrowded airports.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske said about 1,000 employees have volunteered to be sent to other airports if needed.
It’s part of the agency’s plan to anticipate what’s to be a frantic holiday-travel season.
“We expect it to be a busy summer, and we are prepared as much as possible,” Pekoske said at a news conference near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. “We’re going to exceed some airports by a good measure of 2019 numbers.”
Pekoske said the TSA — which has 47,500 screeners — tries to estimate that wait times in standard checkpoint lanes will be at least 30 minutes, or at least 10 minutes for PreCheck passengers. When that happens, he said, volunteers will be dispatched from less crowded airports to help reduce waits at busy airports.
The TSA has screened an average of more than 2.1 million passengers per day in April and May. This is almost 90% of the number of people screened in the same section of 2019.
Airlines are expecting summer crowds similar to 2019, when more than 2.5 million people per day stream through US airport checkpoints.
Airlines have posted ambitious schedules for the summer holiday months, though some have recently shelved those plans out of fear they won’t have enough staff to operate every flight. In addition, international travel is still well below pre-pandemic levels.
This story has been updated to read that the statement was made on Tuesday, not Thursday.