LOS ANGELES (CNS / FOX 11) - Authorities on Thursday said security has been heightened at Los Angeles International Airport and other airfields in response to the crash of an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo that may have been a terrorist attack.
"The safety and security of passengers, airport workers and visitors is our number one priority,'' Airport Police Sgt. Belinda Joseph said. "In light of EgyptAir flight MS804, which disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea,
we have heightened our security posture and enhanced our counter-terrorism security measures at our Los Angeles World Airport airports.''
LAWA is the city department that owns and operates LAX, LA/Ontario International Airport and Van Nuys Airport.
Joseph noted that more than 48,000 credentialed employees working at LAX underwent background checks as part of the hiring process.
"While some may consider these individuals as 48,000 potential threats, airport police see them as 48,000 sets of eyes capable of observing behavior that is uncharacteristic or suspicious and reporting that information to
airport police who can respond quickly to investigate,'' she said.
After a comprehensive review of airport access points (done prior to the news of the EgyptAir flight emerged), those used by aviation workers to enter sterile and secured areas of LAX were reduced to an operational minimum.
"Airport police eliminated and restricted access to over 150 doors within passenger terminals. As well, additional officers have been assigned to the Vulnerability Analysis and Assessment Unit to monitor employee access points daily, and conduct inspections and random screening of aviation workers throughout the sterile and secured areas.''
Airport police continuously assess intelligence and events that occur in the U.S. and abroad, Joseph said.
"We constantly review the security measures we have in place, and will enhance and improve security as needed,'' she said. "While we can't discuss specific details, airport security is everyone's responsibility, and we encourage people that if they 'See something, Say something' (by calling) 877-A-THREAT.''
From Hal Eisner:
LAX is on heightened alert. Police are trying to be more visible and vigilant after an EgyptAir went missing over the Mediterranean. And, since it is being said that the jet incident could be terror related some travelers are feeling a little edgy. Bonnie Cureton, will take on her flight home to Dallas “A little bit of uneasiness… just a little bit of fear.” Waiting for a plane to Boston Karen Oteri said she feels anxious. Same goes for others we talked with.
This increase in anxiety comes as LAX is experiencing an increase in passenger traffic. And, if that weren’t enough a shortage of TSA Officers has caused for long lines at TSA checkpoints.
LAX Assistant Police Chief Dave Maggard says it’ll only get more hectic as we approach Memorial Day and the summer travel season. For now, with the Egypt Air crisis he says, “We’re keeping close tabs on whats’ going on and we’re making sure we’re making adjustments as we get information.” He also says security will be tighter. Haggard says, "we’re asking our officers to be particular vigilant today and particularly visible.”
As for the increased traffic, LAX Public Information Officer Mary Grady says that there are several reasons for the growth. She says, one is the airline industry is healthy and travelers are spending money. She says, there are now more airlines at LAX as well. The seven newest ones are Qatar, Hainan, Interjet, SAS, Thomas Cook and Are Lingus. In June there will be two more starting up at LAX. They are XL Airways and WOW Air.
Meanwhile, in a case where numbers tell a story the big airport in the first three months of 2016 have had 18,011,854 passengers. Last year during the same three months the number was 16,655,358. That’s an 8.1% increase in passengers. Memorial Day is expected to be huge and the summer very hectic.
Again, bottomline, leave extra early if you have flights at LAX. The recommendation from airport officials is 2 hours before your flight’s boarding time (not the departure time) and 3 hours for international flights.
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