By Geena Martinez
MIDLAND - The Midland International Airport is facing off with the Transportation Security Administration. It's all over a proposed change in security.
The agency wants to hand off some of their responsibilities to the airport but Midland airport officials are fighting it.
Exits at Midland International and airports across the country are causing a lot of controversy.
They're called security checkpoint exit lanes. You use them when you're leaving the terminal after getting off a plane.
"It may not seem that but it's very important that those are monitored so that you don't have breach of security," Marv Esterly, Director of the Midland Airport, said.
Right now, the exits are monitored by TSA agents but that could soon change. That's because the TSA proposed an amendment that would require airports to take over the security responsibility.
"After 9/11, the airline provides money for them to perform that operation," Esterly said. "Despite that, they want to move that responsibility to airports."
And the agency will still get the money from airlines. That's not sitting well with airport officials because the TSA's mandate will not be funded.
This means airports will have to front the money to make sure these exits are monitored. Esterly said it could cost them $230,000 more a year.
"If the airport has to absorb that, of course then, we'd have to increase fees to the airlines which then increases fees to the passengers," he said.
The airport has filed a lengthy petition to the TSA asking them to reconsider the mandate. They're hoping it will stop the change altogether, or at the very least, buy them more time.
"We're hopeful that the petitions across the country will get the attention of our representatives in Washington of which we've already been in contact with," Esterly said.
Until then, they're brainstorming a backup plan.
"If we don't do it, of course, we won't have an airport that's secure," Esterly said. "That's not an option so we're going to have to figure out a way in order to secure that exit lane."