The Transportation Security Administration has set a goal of registering 25 million Americans for a security program that lets fliers use an expedited screening line at U.S. airports.
But the TSA has enrolled only 4 million travelers into the program — dubbed TSA PreCheck — and now it has halted plans to employ new private vendors to help register passengers.
In a note to potential vendors, TSA said it was halting the expansion “in light of the increased and evolving cybersecurity risks over the past year.” The note suggested that the TSA is worried about cybercriminals getting the passenger information that would be used to test new vendors wanting to work with TSA.
The agency said it plans to issue a new request for private vendors soon that will “align with (Department of Homeland Security) cybersecurity best practices.”
Airlines hope for Trump support
The Obama administration hasn’t been in a hurry to address long-standing complaints by U.S.-based airlines that rival carriers from the Middle East get an unfair advantage, subsidized by their oil-rich governments.
But with real estate magnate Donald Trump about to take over the presidency, a coalition of U.S. airlines hopes to find a more sympathetic ear in the White House.
“The Trump administration, I think, will put more energy behind this issue,” said Jill Zuckerman, a spokeswoman for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the coalition that includes American, Delta and United airlines.
The coalition, along with airline unions, have complained that Qatar, Etihad and Emirates airlines have expanded into the U.S. thanks to subsidies from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The U.S. carriers have asked the Department of Transportation to intervene to slow or stop the expansion of the Persian Gulf carriers.
U.S. Department of Transportation representatives have so far held two meetings with Qatar and UAE officials to discuss the issue but have reached no resolution, according to airline industry representatives.
Trump’s campaign centered on putting the United States and American jobs first and called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
But Trump also has some strong business ties to Qatar and the UAE. Trump’s organization is scheduled next year to complete construction of a golf course in Dubai. Also, Qatar Airways’ regional offices operate out of Trump Towers in New York.