American Airlines will hire security contractors

Posted at 6:00 PM, May 18, 2016

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines says it will spend $4 million for contractors who will help manage checkpoint lines and get passengers through security more quickly.

The airline said Wednesday that the workers should be on the job at major airports.

The airline's chief operating officer, Robert Isom, called the step a decent start. But he said the only way to fix long airport lines is to increase staffing for the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA is facing a growing backlash over long lines at major airports around the country. The TSA has fewer screeners and has tightened security procedures, which could be slowing down the lines.

The problem could grow worse during the peak summer travel season. The leading trade group for U.S. airlines predicts that 4 percent more passengers will fly this summer than in 2015, which was a record season.

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said TSA won't compromise security. He asked travelers to be patient while the government works to shorten the lines.

Congress agreed to move up $34 million in TSA funding to hire 768 more screeners in the next month — that will give the agency 42,525 — and pay overtime to existing employees.

American Airlines says the contractors it will perform tasks such as managing lines and collecting bins so that TSA officers can focus on screening passengers.

Isom said in a letter to employees that tens of thousands of the airline's customers have missed flights and bags have been delayed because of long security lines.