Kansas City International Airport is changing private screener contractors.
The Transportation Security Administration has awarded a the new contract to AKAL Security Inc. of Espanola, New Mexico.
UPDATE: The battle over the KCI account, however, may not be over. Late Monday, the current Contractor, FirstLine Transportation Securityt Inc. announced it would file a protest over the decision.
“We are disappointed with TSA’s decision to move to another company to provide security screening services at MCI, and believe that FirstLine’s proposal continues to offer the highest level of security effectiveness, customer service focus, efficiency, accountability, and value to TSA and the traveling public. We look forward to resolving the protest favorably and promptly,” said Steve Metzler, Vice President of Operations.
Mr. Metzler added, “FirstLine will continue to provide passenger and baggage screening services at MCI while its protest is pending. We have enjoyed nearly nine years of successful partnership with the TSA and MCI in the SPP, and we look forward to protecting the traveling public there, and in other locations, for many years to come.”
A General Services Administration spokesman says the AKAL contract is worth more than $150 million for five years. AKAL is well-known in the security business for providing courthouse protection.
Information on the company website also says they have “successfully provided services at Honolulu International; Baltimore Washington; and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
AKAL says all of them are considered category ‘X’ airports by TSA. Those are considered among the busiest in passenger volume.
But none of those airports are listed on the TSA list where private contractors are listed as part of the TSA Screening Partnership Program (SPPS) airports.
KCI was one the original five airports to use a private contractor for passenger screening. It is the second-largest airport that does that. Only San Francisco International (SFO) is bigger. There are now 19 US airports that are part of the SPP program.
No reason was given in official TSA documents for the change to AKAL from the present firm, FirstLine Transportation Security, Inc.
FirstLine has had the KCI contract since at least 2002, according to the TSA s. A spokesman for AKAL would not comment.
“I am not permitted to make any statement until the announcement is verified with the TSA” said Daya Khalsa of AKAL.
AKAL is a surprise pick according to some KCI officials who declined to talk on the record. “Shocking”, said one. Another KCI official called it “stunning” KCI and FirstLine were thought to have a good relationship.