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Fri, Mar 07, 2003

If It Has to Happen, You'll Have to Pay For It

Unfunded Mandate Issue Comes Up in Denver

Denver International Airport's (DEN) Deputy Manager of Aviation, Amy Bourgeron, testified before a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee Thursday, and urged Congress to provide the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with sufficient monies to fund in-line installation of explosive detection system (EDS) equipment at major airports to meet the December 31, 2003 deadline for 100% baggage screening.

DEN officials believe the most efficient way to do this in Denver is by integrating the large explosive detection machines into the airport's baggage systems, rather than installing the machines in the airport lobby. The project will cost $90 million and take nine months to complete at DEN, but funding for the TSA to date has not been sufficient.

DEN is urging Congress to provide the necessary funding in a Supplemental Appropriations Bill. If sufficient funding is not made available this year, DEN wants Congress to provide 100% of the project funds through the Letters of Intent (LOI) program. Congress has already given the TSA the authority to issue LOIs to cover the costs of terminal modifications for in-line systems, but right now, LOIs only cover 75% of the costs. Bourgeron said, "If the terminal modification costs are imposed on airports, it will divert funds that could otherwise be put into needed capacity improvements. It will also cause further harm to the already financially-strapped airline industry."

In her testimony, Bourgeron also:

  • Asked Congress to expedite the TSA's certification process of explosive detection technology developed by the Heimann Corporation in order to improve safety, security and efficiency of screening baggage
  • Sought Congressional support for the Small Community Air Service
  • Development Program and the Essential Air Service Program.
  • Thanked the Committee for its support of construction of DEN's sixth runway

DEN officials thank Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez, for suggesting that the airport be invited to present testimony to the Subcommittee.

FMI: www.flydenver.com

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