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Higgins, Collins oppose TSA proposal to pull Buffalo-Niagara International Airport status as a hub

by jmaloni

Submitted

Wed, Mar 5th 2014 03:45 pm

WNY congressmen say TSA reasoning, "does not match reality"

Western New York congressmen Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, and Chris Collins, R-NY-27, are calling for a reversal on a plan by the Transportation Security Administration to remove Buffalo-Niagara International Airport's status as a hub airport. Under the TSA's "hub and spoke realignment" plan, the Buffalo airport would become a spoke and Albany would become the upstate hub.

In a letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole, Higgins and Collins argue why, when assessing the reality of airport needs on the ground in New York state, it makes the most sense to keep Buffalo as a hub.

"It appears that TSA chose another airport arbitrarily because it is located in the state capital without a good understanding of its location or fair consideration of Buffalo-Niagara's volume," said Higgins, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. "A simple look at the numbers, security factors and unique characteristics of this facility as a border airport should make Buffalo the clear choice as a hub."

"Although Albany may be our state capital, the simple fact is that Buffalo-Niagara is a bigger, busier airport," Collins said. "Given the passenger and flight volume at the Buffalo-Niagara airport, the fact that it is a border airport, which requires more complicated TSA work, and the federal law enforcement resources located in Buffalo, I urge TSA to let Buffalo remain the hub for upstate New York."

Higgins and Collins use the following data to support justification to keep the Buffalo airport as a hub:

  • Buffalo is the third busiest airport in New York, with JFK ranking first, LaGuardia ranking second
  • Buffalo handles twice the number of passengers, flights and freight as Albany
  • 2013 throughput at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport: 2,793,855
  • 2013 throughput at the Albany County Airport: 1,338,648
  • In the TSA's own "Current Airport Threat Assessment" Buffalo was ranked 41 out of 457 airports surveyed. Albany didn't make the list.
  • Due to Buffalo's location along the northern border, 40 percent of the passengers at Buffalo are Canadians or other foreign nationals, which require more complicated TSA work in Buffalo
  • Buffalo is in closer proximity to the other larger upstate "spokes," including Rochester and Syracuse
  • Buffalo is home to a larger nexus of federal law enforcement personnel with a greater FBI, CBP, Border Patrol and Coast Guard presence

Hub airports include the use of federal security directors on-site to assist with security activities, coordinate emergency response among federal and local agencies and lead crisis management.

Higgins addressed the issue on the House Floor with the following remarks:

"Mr. Speaker,

"In its recent nationwide realignment, the Transportation Security Administration made the decision to consolidate all administrative functions for its upstate region at the Albany Airport.

"I believe this decision was misguided and illogical. In all of the other proposed consolidations around the country, smaller airports are being made subordinate to larger airports, but in this case, inexplicably, the TSA proposes to make the Buffalo-Niagara Falls International Airport subordinate to Albany, despite the fact that Buffalo's airport has twice the passenger volume as Albany.

"Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of passengers flying out of Buffalo are Canadians or other foreign nationals, which would seem to necessitate a more complex TSA operation.

"Mr. Speaker, TSA's rollout of this proposed change has been full of inconsistencies and contradictions and that's why I have asked TSA to reconsider this flawed decision and consolidate operations where it makes sense - in Buffalo."

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