Advocating for improved airport screening was a major part of GBTA’s 2014 Government Relations Agenda. Recent travel and trade stats released from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showed great strides made in this effort last year.
GBTA supports risk-based, intelligence-driven aviation security that is safe, fast and efficient. Inefficient procedures reduce business travel due to the “hassle factor” and hurt the economy. Time is money for business travelers. Business travelers support the expansion of TSA’s Pre✓® to multiple lanes at all domestic airports. With millions expected to enroll in the program, TSA must focus on the infrastructure necessary to expand at airport checkpoints. Additionally, for this program to succeed, it must push enrollment beyond federal offices to the business community.
According to a DHS press release:
- This past year, 120 new TSA Pre✓® lanes were added and TSA Pre✓® operations began at 11 new airports. Today, TSA Pre✓® has more than 600 lanes at 125 U.S. airports.
- TSA had a busy year in 2014, screening 653,487,270 passengers (nearly 1.8 million per day), which is 14,781,480 more passengers than 2013.
- TSA screened more than 443 million checked bags and nearly 1.7 billion carry-on bags.
- Nationwide, fewer than one percent (0.32) of passengers waited in a line longer than 20 minutes.
- The TSA Pre✓® application program, which began in December 2013, enrolled over 800,000 travelers in 2014. In addition to these enrollments, CBP trusted travelers — those enrolled in other trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI — are also automatically eligible for TSA Pre✓®.
- Over 40 percent of passengers screened received some form of expedited screening in 2014.
More than a million jobs could be created over the next decade if the nation took a larger share of the international travel market. Reduced wait times and increased U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff are essential, particularly at key arrival airports.
More from the DHS press release:
- CBP officers processed more than 374 million travelers at air, land, and sea ports of entry in 2014, an increase of four percent from the previous year.
- More than 107 million international travelers arrived at U.S. airports, an increase of 4.7 percent from the previous year.
- Despite the continued increase in international air travelers, average wait times were down 13 percent at the top 10 airports. At John F. Kennedy International Airport, the airport with the most passenger volume in the United States, the average wait time in 2014 was down 28 percent from 2013.
GBTA’s 2014 Government Relations Agenda also talked about the Global Entry program, which allows vetted members to bypass long immigration lines, calling it an unqualified success and a model for expedited screening and resource allocation. Continued expansion of the program is essential for increased international business travel.
Well, the DHS release showed growth in Global Entry as well in 2014:
- An additional 1.25 million people enrolled in the agency’s Trusted Traveler Programs (Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST) in 2014 to bring total enrollment to more than 3.3 million members.
- Global Entry, the agency’s largest program with more than 1.7 million members, is operational at 42 U.S. airports and 12 Preclearance locations; these locations serve 99 percent of incoming travelers to the United States. CBP added nine Global Entry kiosk locations in 2014 and enrolled its one millionth member in NEXUS, a program providing expedited travel between the U.S. and Canada.
- In January 2014, CBP expanded Preclearance operations to a 15th location, Abu Dhabi International Airport.
- More than 16 million travelers went through one of CBP’s Preclearance locations in Canada, Ireland, the Caribbean, and the United Arab Emirates in 2014, accounting for 15 percent of total international air travel that year.
As you can see, we have made great progress on improving and expanding access to expedited travel for business travelers. But it is a constant battle to improve and expand these. GBTA will continue the fight, but I wanted to pass along this good news.