The Transportation Security Administration needs to reverse a wrong-headed decision that seems to have been made in a vacuum, without a clear understanding of the situation.
That would be the only way to explain why the TSA decided to cut back on top management at Buffalo Niagara International Airport and remove its status as a hub airport in favor of Albany.
Under the change, the airports in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse will no longer have a “federal security director” onsite to lead operations. The director would be based in Albany.
Under the TSA’s “hub and spoke realignment” plan, the Buffalo airport would become a spoke and Albany would become the upstate hub. No one who has spent time in both places would imagine Albany usurping Buffalo in this regard. Likely because it doesn’t make sense.
While Albany is the state capital, Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Chris Collins, R-Clarence, point out that Buffalo has more of just about everything when it comes to airport traffic.
As Higgins and Collins contend:
• Buffalo is the third-busiest airport in New York, behind JFK and LaGuardia in New York City.
• Buffalo handles twice the passengers, flights and freight as Albany.
• 2013 traffic at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport totaled 2,793,855.
• 2013 traffic at the Albany County Airport was less than half that at 1,338,648
• The TSA’s own “Current Airport Threat Assessment” ranks Buffalo 41st out of 457 airports surveyed. Albany didn’t make the list.
• Due to Buffalo’s location along the northern border, 40 percent of the passengers at Buffalo are Canadians or other foreign nationals requiring more complicated TSA work in Buffalo.
There’s more: Buffalo is in closer proximity to other larger upstate “spokes,” including Rochester, and is home to a larger nexus of federal law enforcement personnel.
Pick any or all of those points and it makes more sense to return Buffalo’s status as a hub airport, and no sense to bestow the title on Albany.
Of all the bureaucratic decisions made in the dark, this one is the most puzzling. The TSA needs to turn on the light and quickly reverse course.