CNN reports that millions saved from taking away screening at small and medium-sized airports would be invested in larger airports.
In an exclusive report, global broadcaster CNN says that security screening could disappear at more than 150 small and medium-sized airports across the United States.
The $115 million that would be saved as a result each year would then be invested in strengthening security at larger airports.
The report is based on internal documents from the Transportation Security Administration obtained by CNN as well as comments from senior agency officials.
If implemented, the move would be a major change for air travel in the US after almost two decades of strong TSA presence since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even as the Trump administration boosted screening for laptops and other electronic devices.
Security would be cut at airports serving planes with 60 seats or fewer, the plans say, which could bring a “small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity”.
Passengers and baggage arriving from these smaller airports would be screened only on arrival at major airports for connecting flights.
CNN’s security and terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank says it is “stunning that this is even seriously being considered”.
He adds: “Al Qaeda and ISIS still regard aviation as a priority target. That includes aircraft where you have fewer than 60 people on board.”
“They would see that as a way to hit the headlines. They would see that as a way to inflict severe economic damage on the United States. If you have an aircraft of 50 or so people being blown out of the sky, there is going to be a great amount of panic and there will indeed be significant economic reverberations, and of course significant loss of life.”