Baggage screeningNew baggage screening tech ahead for Port Columbus

Published 1 October 2009

Columbus International Airport to install a new, $51 million baggage screening system; $35.2 million will come from TSA-distributed stimulus package funds

A nearly $51 million baggage screening system Port Columbus International Airport wants to develop is expected to provide perks for passengers checking in as well as the terminal itself.

David Whitaker, vice president of business development and communications for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, said the organization is in the final stages of securing $35.2 million in federal stimulus dollars through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the $50.9 million project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2011. If the project materializes, airport passengers will be able to check their bags with a ticket agent and avoid moving to a separate screening station to have their bags scanned.

For customers, that means one less step in the check-in process, and for the airport, that means new space in the terminal as the five existing screening stations — moved out front in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — are removed from public view.

Not only does that (screening system) cause congestion and impact circulation in the terminal building, but we believe we couldn’t achieve the full potential of the terminal building with those screening stations,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said the terminal has capacity for about 10 million passengers annually, while fewer than 7 million passengers used the airport last year. Officials have said a new terminal eyed for Port Columbus likely is decades down the road.

While the bulk of the project should be financed with stimulus dollars, Whitaker said the airport will finance the remaining $15.7 million with so-called passenger facility charges, a fee tacked on to tickets that the airport has been collecting for years. Beyond the benefit of more space for the terminal and less check-in time for passengers, he said the new screening system is expected to boost the airport’s ability to monitor baggage.