Merkley, Wyden and Walden Ask TSA to Bring Passenger and Baggage Screening Back to Klamath Falls Airport

Merkley, Wyden and Walden Ask TSA to Bring Passenger and Baggage Screening Back to Klamath Falls Airport

Portland, OR - Today, Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Congressman Greg Walden wrote to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) urging it to resume passenger and baggage screening at the Crater Lake KIamath Regional Airport. Klamath Falls has been successful in attracting a new commercial air carrier to service the Klamath Falls airport. However, the new air service cannot begin until TSA services are restored at the regional airport.  

“Reestablishing commercial air service to the Crater Lake Klamath Regional Airport not only provides greater access to and from the area, but will help strengthen the local economy,” wrote the members of Congress. “We understand that the decision to refederalize the airport is not a simple one, and that the tasks of bringing in equipment and hiring and training personnel cannot happen overnight. However, this decision is of crucial importance to Klamath Falls and the surrounding region, and we strongly urge TSA to reestablish equipment and personnel no later than Jan. 1, 2016.”

Commercial air service at the Klamath Falls airport ended in June 2014 and since that time local leaders in Klamath Falls have been working diligently to bring a new airline carrier to the region. In July, the city of Klamath Falls announced that Pen Air would be willing to provide two daily flights from Klamath Falls starting in November 2015. Pen Air has delayed the start date until January 2016 to accommodate TSA’s timeline. In order for commercial flights to resume, the airport must be refederalized and TSA agents must be reestablished to provide passenger and baggage screening.

A full copy of the letter from Senators Merkley and Wyden and Congressman Walden is below:


Administrator Peter Neffinger, 
Transportation Security Administration
East Tower, Floor 11, TSA-5
601 South Twelfth Street
Arlington, VA 20598-6001

Dear Administrator Neffinger,

We are writing to urge the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to approve the request of the City of Klamath Falls, Oregon, to refederalize its airport security screening and reestablish equipment and personnel there as soon as possible

As you know, the Crater Lake Klamath Regional Airport (LMT) had previously been served by commercial airlines for decades before SkyWest ended service last year. Leaders in Klamath County and beyond have been working diligently to bring back commercial air service ever since. The airport, which serves the people of Klamath and Lake Counties, in Oregon, and Siskiyou and Modoc Counties, in California, is a vital link for individuals traveling out of the area to larger air hubs in Portland and elsewhere. In addition, LMT is a shared operation between the City of Klamath Falls and the Oregon Air National Guard, and serves an important national defense role. 

PenAir’s recent decision to return commercial air service to the airport has created excitement in Klamath Falls and surrounding communities. Reestablishing commercial air service to LMT not only provides greater access to and from the area, but will help strengthen the local economy.  As we understand, the failure to reestablish on-site TSA security screening at LMT would have a negative impact on commercial aircraft enplanements. Thereby, resulting in the airport’s ineligibility for significant additional FAA maintenance funds that are vital to make needed improvements to the airport itself, and sustain the mission of the Oregon Air National Guard. 

We understand that the decision to refederalize security at the airport is not a simple one, and that the tasks of bringing in equipment and hiring and training personnel cannot happen overnight. However, this decision is of crucial importance to Klamath Falls and the surrounding region, and we strongly urge TSA to reestablish equipment and personnel no later than Jan. 1, 2016. If this is not feasible, please provide justification. 

If you have questions, please contact Wayne Kinney in Sen. Wyden’s Bend office at 541 330-9142 (Wayne_Kinney@wyden.senate.gov),Amy Amrhein in Sen. Merkley’s Medford office at 541 326-7048 (Amy Amrhein@merkley.senate.gov), or Troy Ferguson in Rep. Walden’s Medford office at 541-776-4646 (Troy.Ferguson@mail.house.gov). 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and fair consideration of the City’s request.

Sincerely,

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden