The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday April 1st

Airports Appeal to FAA: Loosen Some Safety Rules

RDU and CDI officials say FAA security regulations are harming business without improving overall safety.

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport requested this week that the FAA get rid of certain blanket restrictions that officials feel are not significantly contributing to safety and instead are causing problems at the airport.

Several airport restrictions, including the presence of additional security guards, were implemented following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The FAA would not allow airports to reopen until taking these additional measures.

But Charlotte-Douglas officials say they want to implement safety precautions that will not have an adverse effect on business.

"We're the ones on the front lines," said Charlotte-Douglas Aviation Director Jerry Orr. "We would like the flexibility to design our own security measures."

Orr said the measures the airport would like to see lifted include:

- The new FAA rule prohibiting non-ticketed passengers past security check points, a safety requirement airport officials fear is keeping people out of the terminal.

Non-ticketed passengers are those who come into the airport who are not on a flight and might come to greet or say goodbye to family or friends.

- The FAA mandate that no cars can park within 300 ft. of the terminal.

Orr said the airport's parking deck lies within that distance and because of its design, airport officials have had to close the entire parking deck.

- The FAA ban on all curbside check in.

Orr said this doubles the burden on interior check in, increasing congestion and possibly creating a safety hazard.

Christopher White, a spokesman for the FAA, told The Associated Press Wednesday it is unlikely that Orr's request will be granted.

Officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport also are arguing certain FAA restrictions that are creating problems at the airport.

Mirinda Kossoff, communications manager at RDU, said RDU is negotiating with the FAA to reopen 1,200 prime parking spaces within 300 feet of the terminal.

In addition to a general decline in business, RDU suffered further losses when Midway Airlines closed its 17 gates.

Kossoff said Midway, which used the airport as a hub, was in the process of folding, and the terrorist attacks expedited its closing. "The airport as a whole took a big hit," she said. "Some vendors had to lay off people or cut back their hours."

Orr also said a general decrease in air travel is having a negative effect on concourse vendors -- a scene repeated in airports nationwide, including RDU.

"(RDU's) concessions are suffering but not as much as those at Charlotte-Douglas because they have more concessions," Kossoff said.

Orr said the restrictions increase safety but at a cost to passenger privacy.

"They are safer because we're putting a tremendous amount of effort into keeping passengers safe, however, they are more intrusive."

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