President Steps Up for Airports


Obama Steps to the Plate for Airport Priorities

Today President Obama will be visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, to highlight the positive economic impact of travel and tourism.  At the event he plans to announce a series of executive actions his administration is taking to continue to encourage facilitate international travelers coming to the United States.  A number of ACI-NA members and staff were invited to participate in the event and a White House meeting with industry executives earlier in the day.  

  •     Signing a Presidential Memorandum to Expedite the Entry Process for Travelers, Starting With the 15 Largest Airports: Over the next 120 days, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson will lead an interagency team, in close partnership with industry, to develop a national goal to improve the entry process and reduce wait times for international travelers arriving in the United States, and airport-specific action plans at the 15 largest airports for international arrivals, consistent with progress already achieved at many international airports where, through a combination of streamlining processes and upgrading technologies, wait times have been reduced significantly.
  •     Taking Additional Steps to Improve and Streamline the Entry Process:  DHS is expanding the use of technology to streamline the entry process, such as Automated Passport Control kiosks.  DHS is opening 300+ new enrollment centers nationwide in 2014 for Trusted Traveler Programs (including TSA Preâoe"™, CBP’s Global Entry and NEXUS.)  CBP is in the process of hiring and deploying 2000 new officers to ports-of-entry around the country. And CBP is entering into reimbursable agreements with airports and other entities to cover additional officer staffing and overtime needs.
  •     Launching New Efforts to Encourage Travelers to Visit the United States:  The Departments of Commerce, State, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Transportation and the Interior will take additional steps to encourage travelers to visit the United States, including launching coordinated strategies with BrandUSA in 10 international markets, creating a “one-stop” that supports international bids for major global events and launching a new “virtual visitor services” platform to increase tourism on public lands and waters.
  •     Working to Liberalize Aviation Markets and Modernize International Partnerships:  The United States has 113 Open Skies agreements with partners across the world which have increased international traffic and resulted in significant benefits to the U.S. economy, aviation industry and workforce, and traveling public.  The Obama Administration has established 19 Open Skies agreements and is continuing to pursue new agreements, and improve existing agreements, to provide U.S. air carriers with opportunities to offer new and innovative service to travelers and shippers, as well as to strengthen the Federal government’s ability to help resolve operational issues.

Key House Leaders Support Airports on Exit Lanes

On Tuesday, House Transportation Security Subcommittee leaders Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA) wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole expressing their concerns about TSA’s creative interpretation of the new law on exit-lane staffing.  In addition to calling for TSA to follow the plain language of the law that requires TSA to continue to provide staff to monitor those exit lanes where it provided the function on December 1, 2013, the letter urges TSA to work more closely with airport stakeholders to develop technological solutions that take into account unique airport configurations.

  • The Hudson-Richmond letter echoes the concerns that ACI-NA and many of you have continued to raise, not only with Chairman Hudson and Ranking Member Richmond, but also with your own members of Congress.  It is one part of a multi-pronged effort to (1) ensure that TSA adheres to its responsibility for staffing exit lanes per the law, and (2) establish a process where TSA and airport stakeholders can agree to technological solutions and a timeline to phase out staffed exit lanes in place of exit lanes monitored via technology.