WARWICK, RI – A $5.5 federal reimbursement to help T.F. Green pay for improved baggage screening systems is on its way to Rhode Island, thanks to a provision U.S. Senator Jack Reed authored in the recently passed appropriations law.
Today, Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, visited T.F. Green Airport to meet with Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) President and CEO Iftikhar Ahmad and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Federal Security Director Daniel Burche to discuss efforts to keep air travel safe.
Over the years, Senator Reed has helped secure over $200 million in federal funding to extend the runway at T.F. Green Airport and help modernize the airport.
T.F. Green Airport, which is in the running to be named USA Today’s “Best Small Airport” in the country, is often lauded for its convenience, cleanliness, location, and amenities. Readers have until Monday, January 13 to cast their ballot. It is served by ten airlines and is the “Official Airport of the New England Patriots.”
Recently, Senator Reed helped provide $5.5 million in the 2020 appropriations law to reimburse T. F. Green Airport for post 9/11 security upgrades. This law includes $7.8 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), increases TSA staffing by over 1,000 frontline workers nationwide, and sets aside a total of $40 million to reimburse several airports for baggage screening systems and security improvements, of which $5.5 million will be directed to T.F. Green.
In the early 2000s, T.F. Green Airport was among several airports to swiftly install new security technology and sophisticated, integrated in-line baggage screening systems with the understanding that it would be reimbursed for its early action. In addition to enhanced security, the baggage screening investment also helps reduce airline delays by efficiently checking thousands of bags per hour.
Despite the fact that the airport installed in-line systems early, enhancing safety and saving the federal government millions of dollars in reduced labor and workers’ compensation costs, RIAC has never been reimbursed.
“Paying for these security upgrades is a federal responsibility. Congress mandated stronger airport security and the federal government must fulfill its commitment and reimburse airports that took appropriate measures to protect the travelling public,” stated Senator Reed. “In the wake of 9/11, Rhode Island airport officials answered the call to improve security, putting the safety of passengers above all else and dedicating significant financial resources to do so. Finally, the federal government is paying them back and I will continue pressing to ensure Rhode Island is fully reimbursed by the federal government.”
“On behalf of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation and all the travelers we serve I want to express my gratitude to Senator Reed for his commitment to improving passenger safety in Rhode Island and throughout the nation,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. “Senator Reed, as the Ranking Member Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, has long recognized the important role our local airports play creating jobs and supporting the local economy, and we thank he and all our partners in ensuring Rhode Island receives its fair share of federal funds vital in helping us further our important mission.”
“I am very thankful for the relationship and support the officers and staff of the TSA has with the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, Senator Reed and his staff as well as the entire traveling public we serve at PVD. It is marvelous and helps make the travel experience safe, convenient and enjoyable to well over 2 million persons per year,” said TSA Federal Security Director Daniel Burche.
TSA screens about 5,700 passengers and crew per day at T.F. Green, with crowds peaking at nearly 8,000 per day around the busiest travel days of the year. In 2019, TSA screened over 2.1 million passengers departing from T.F. Green airport and X-rayed over 1.12 million checked bags.
To enhance security at T.F. Green, TSA is investing in new technologies for 2020, including two new industry-leading Computed Tomography (CT) scanning machines and an Advanced Image Technology (AIT) scanner. The new equipment provides enhanced detection technology and helps saves travelers time.
In 2007, Reed helped pass the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act, which made projects eligible for federal reimbursement even if they were started before the law's enactment.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Reed included language in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114- 113), directing TSA to work to validate airports' claims for reimbursement and establish a process to pay them. After a thorough review, TSA determined that 14 airports were eligible for a total of $218 million in reimbursements.
Reed says this $5.5 million installment brings T.F. Green’s total reimbursement to-date to $18 million of the $30 million it was originally owed. Senator Reed says he will continue working with his colleagues on a bipartisan basis to make additional federal funding available in the years ahead to ensure Congress repays Rhode Island for these needed security investments.