PORTLAND (AP) – Proposed security budget cuts that could have led to long lines this summer at the Portland International Jetport have been delayed, Maine’s U.S. senators said Monday.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees airport security nationwide, has agreed to review its earlier decision to eliminate about 30 percent of the airport’s passenger and baggage screeners.

Airport officials said cuts of that magnitude could have led to long waits for passengers, possibly up to 45 minutes, and eliminated one of the three security-screening lanes just when the airport enters its busiest time of the year.

Collins, who chairs the committee that oversees the Homeland Security Department and TSA, wrote a letter to Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson, questioning the level of proposed cuts for Portland.

She argued that the proposed cuts were based on outdated information. On Monday, she said Hutchinson agreed to review the decision.

“TSA’s original plan would have caused lengthy passenger delays,” Collins said. “I am optimistic that once TSA looks at the jetport’s needs, it will understand the need to keep three screening lanes up and running.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the TSA acknowledged using incomplete data to determine staffing cuts in Portland, and will update its formula to recalculate the jetport’s layoffs.

The proposed cuts were part of a plan to reduce the nation’s 56,000 passengers screeners by 6,000 workers.

The Portland airport was to lose 30 of its 101 screeners, while Manchester, N.H. is scheduled to lose 84 of its 200 screeners. Boston’s Logan airport, which has 1,047 screeners, would lose only 50.

At the same time, 151 airports around the country, including Bangor International, would gain screeners. Bangor would go from 65 to 71 screeners, the same number as Portland even though it has one-third the number of flights.

AP-ES-05-19-03 1920EDT



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