Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport launches employee screening

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has opened its new employee screening checkpoint to boost security checks of workers, in response to a gun-running scheme involving a baggage handler that was uncovered late last year. Airport workers previously were not all required to pass through security checkpoints.

The checkpoint in the airport’s domestic terminal is now in a “soft launch” phase. The three-lane employee screening checkpoint will be operating in full force soon. The checkpoint is expected to screen more than 27,000 badged employees a week, which averages out to close to 4,000 employees a day. The airport aims to process employees in 3 to 5 minutes, and officials said each lane can screen 280 employees an hour.

The airport has spent some $12 million on boosting employee screening, including the new security checkpoint, personnel, inspections and other security measures.

A total of 40,000 employees at the airport work in secure areas, and the airport wants all of them to have the expectation that they may go through screening. But not all of them will go through the new checkpoint. Employees of the airport’s biggest operator, Delta Air Lines, won’t use the checkpoint. The airline says it will continue spot checks at employee shuttle lots and plans more extensive screening in the future. Concessions workers also go through TSA checkpoints, while flight crews go through an expedited screening process.