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Atlanta to revive idea of privatizing airport security screening, says mayor

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, on the heels of dismissing the manager of the world’s busiest airport, said he wants to take a closer look at privatizing security screening at the Atlanta airport to address the issue of long lines.

Reed said at a press conference discussing the removal of Miguel Southwell as general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International that he was upset about the long lines at the airport, but added that it was a “layering” of factors contributing to his decision on the airport manager.

Reed appointed the airport’s chief financial officer Roosevelt Council as the interim general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson.

It was Southwell who earlier this year sent a letter to the Transportation Security Administration, raising the idea of privatizing security screening at the Atlanta airport if long lines were not addressed.

airport lines

After the TSA pledged to add staff and canine units and test new technology to process passengers more quickly at Hartsfield-Jackson, Southwell said the airport was pleased with the response.

But Reed said Monday that the city has been in conversations with San Francisco International Airport, which privatized its security screening.

“We’re going to explore that and see if it’s the best decision,” Reed said. “The lines are very concerning to me…. We’re going to do every single thing we can do, and it’s going to have urgency to it.”

Reed also said the city is considering using shuttles to move passengers from the domestic terminal to the international terminal due to the lines. Lines at the international terminal are often shorter than the long lines at the domestic terminal during peak periods there.


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