Chairman Havern, Chairman Sullivan, and members of the Joint Committee on Transportation.
I want to thank the committee for giving us this opportunity to talk about the impacts that the September 11 terrorist attacks have had on Massport, and some of the security and fiscal measures we have taken in response. Tom Kinton, our Aviation Director, Mike Leone, our Port Director, Leslie Kirwan, our Administration and Finance Director, and Col. John DiFava, who is overseeing Public Safety at Logan, are here to answer any questions you might have following my prepared remarks.
Six months ago, I had the opportunity to come before this committee and talk about Massport's plans for dealing with the National Crisis in Aviation long lines, heavy congestion, record delays, and historic passenger dissatisfaction.
Six weeks ago, 19 hijackers changed commercial aviation forever when, at 8:48 A.M., American Flight 11 disappeared into the World Trade Center.
Years in which the most serious security violations at American airports were committed by FAA undercover agents probing for flaws, had disguised the real dangers that were out there. None of us in transportation was prepared for the staggering determination of suicidal terrorists, or the stunning evil they were capable of doing when, at 9:03, another plane from Boston shattered the second tower.
In an instant, the air travel system that gives us the freedom to go where we want to go, do what we want to do, and be with the people who matter most to us, was transformed into an instrument of fear. Those of us in the aviation community stepped back in horror as the industry we love was used in hate to commit a monstrous crime. Those were our planes up there, and our people, and their murder engraves a memory that time will never erase.
There wasn't time to mourn. We got through those unbelievable, horrible first few hours and days by staying focused on three overriding priorities.
First, provide authorities with whatever information they needed to investigate the attack. We did that, and continue to do that, and are cooperating fully with state and federal authorities as the largest investigation in US history continues. No one wants to find out exactly what happened more than we do, so that we can prevent it from ever happening again.
Our second priority was to care for the victims families who came to us for help. Logan is an O&D Airport Origination and Destination. That means that most of the people who fly here, live here. A catastrophe involving Logan hits our community particularly hard.
Nine minutes after the second plane hit, at 9:12 A.M., Massport's Family Assistance center was activated. By 9:30 it was operational. Ten Minutes after that, the FAA shut down every airport in the country, grounded every plane, and closed down the entire US airspace the first time in history that had ever been done.
Under the most excruciating circumstances imaginable, our CARE team volunteers made sure that no family member was left alone during this terrible time, without assistance, comfort, or emotional support.
Let me just say this about those Massport volunteers. We planned and trained for a day like this. But two separate and simultaneous disasters, involving two different airlines, whose reach and repercussions ran far beyond the borders of this airport, surpassed our worst imaginings. Not only did our CARE volunteers perform superbly. They performed heroically.
Our final priority was to make sure the public was safe and the airport secure. By the time we reopened at 5 A.M. that Saturday, we had:
- Done multiple security sweeps of the terminals
- Cleared away nearly 3,000 cars from the Terminal B parking lot
- Stationed uniformed and plainclothes law enforcement in terminals and at security checkpoints
- Reinforced Logan's own State Police detachment with additional state police, federal agents and, more recently, by order of Governor Swift, National Guard troops.
But because of what happened at Logan, Massport has also instituted and continues to institute security measures that go above and beyond FAA security directives.
As FAA Administrator Jane Garvey said last week, the attacks on September 11 have fundamentally changed the way we see national security and aviation security in this country. And since September 11, Massport has been doing everything we can to make airport security, airtight.
Great tragedies can sometimes produce great advancements if we are willing to learn from them.
In his report to Congress shortly after the attacks, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General condemned the nation's "layered system" of airport security that divides responsibility among the FAA, the air carriers and airport operators.
Just as the U.S. Intelligence community is getting serious about combining resources, Inspector General Kenneth Mead says the time has come to vest governance and responsibility for airport security in one federal organization and a single chain of command.
I couldn't agree more, and Massport has been lobbying Congress for just such a system. We think it's vital to put highly-trained federal workers in charge of passenger and baggage screening. Sen. Kerry has shown strong leadership on this issue, and we support the airport security bill passed by the Senate two weeks ago. We urge the House to work out its differences on federalization and adopt the Senate bill as soon as possible.
Public safety is government's most important responsibility. But security is only as good as its weakest link. And it has been obvious for a long time that security checkpoints operated by poorly trained, and poorly paid private workers are the system's weakest link.
That is why we believe a well trained, highly motivated professional screening force, employing the latest security techniques, and held to the highest standards of performance and accountability will provide the greatest measure of protection, both for airports and the traveling public.
This is a new era of air travel. The events of September 11 dramatically reveal why retrofitting the existing flawed system still leaves us vulnerable.
We have made a number of other recommendations to federal officials that we believe will improve airport security at Logan and nationwide:
- We urged the FAA to standardize prohibited items from luggage -- which the FAA has done.
- We urged the FAA to limit the number of carry on items which it has also done.
- We believe it is vital that all baggage, checked as well as carry-on, be screened which the Senates bill requires, and the FAA now supports
- We urged that state-of-the-art screening devices to be deployed and as you may have read last week, we are working with two Massachusetts firms to make Logan the first airport in the nation to utilize cutting edge facial recognition technology able to match passengers to FBI watch lists.
- We proposed that all airport employees to be fingerprinted and cross-checked against the FBI's watch list.
These are all necessary changes to reconnect a fractured security system that divides responsibility between different levels of government, and between government and private industry.
But no matter which agency, company, or group is technically responsible for security in a particular area of the airport, Logan is our house and we take responsibility for all of it.
That is why, at the same time we are lobbying Washington to make those long-term structural changes that will make the system as a whole more secure, we are taking matters into our own hands to make Logan Airport the safest airport in the country -- right now.
The events of September 11 rule out tinkering with changes in our security system. Only the products of decisive, systemic, strategic thinking will do the kind that security experts have been pushing for decades.
And that begins with instilling a culture of security awareness that goes beyond designated security personnel, and involves the entire airport community, who see security as their first responsibility.
To get a jump start on that, Massport has hired Jeffrey Beatty, a former commander of the elite Delta force who also worked for the FBI and CIA, to give counter-terrorism training to the hundreds of people who deal face to face with Logan's customers every day.
Since September 11, we have all heard how airports in America could learn from the experience of airports in other parts of the world. We intend to. And to help with that, we have hired the former head of security for Israels Ben-Gurion International Airport, whose hard-won experience and counter-terrorism expertise is now at work at Logan.
We have also retained the services of one of the most well known and respected security experts in this country, a man who headed security at Dallas-Fort Worth for 26 years. In this way we hope to learn about the strict security that is standard operating procedure in Europe and Israel, while getting advice on how these security measures can be adopted and incorporated by US airports the size of Logan, with their unique demands and constraints.
Their recommendations, which we expect to get in about three months, will support and supplement the recommendations we will be getting from the security audit being done by CTI. We hired CTI last March to conduct a security assessment of Massport properties. They are completing that audit and are studying the feasibility of implementing facial recognition technologies, and assisting us in our plan to install closed circuit video cameras at all 16 security checkpoints by the end of the year. We expect that a $7.5 million federal grant we are getting will fund much of that, which we are matching with $2.5 million of our own.
Since the summer, we have been in the process of developing a series of security tests at checkpoints using undercover state police. This program is in addition to tests conducted by the FAA and the airlines since, strictly speaking, the regulation of security checkpoints is beyond our jurisdiction.
With our board's approval, we will also be seeking state legislation to increase from $2,000 to $10,000 the maximum fine that Massport is allowed to assess for violations of Massports security regulations. But whether in our area of responsibility under the current FAA regulatory scheme for aviation security, or someone else's responsibility under that same scheme, until Congress changes the law to fortify the weak links in the nation's security system, Massport will continue to take whatever steps we deem necessary to make Logan Airport the most secure airport in the country.
The aftershocks from the cataclysm at Ground Zero are still being felt. No one knows better than the people in commercial aviation how much air travel owes to trust. Without it, aviation cannot exist. American aviation is the best in the world. But it cannot survive for long without the public's confidence. And that confidence was horribly shaken by the attacks on September 11.
Since the attacks, polls have shown that six in ten people say they are afraid to fly, and four in ten say they wont fly anytime soon.
In the last six weeks, major carriers have reduced flights 20 percent and more than 100,000 people in aviation have lost their jobs. There have been about 1,000 layoffs and furloughs at Logan alone.
Airports across the country stand to lose about $3 billion this year, according to one industry association, and losses here at Logan have forced Massport for the first time in our history to let some very good people go.
Those decisions were not made hastily, lightly or easily.
It was our hope that we could minimize the impact on staff by taking a number of immediate steps once it became clear that there would be a substantial budget gap caused by projected revenues that were only 70 percent of what we expected from passengers and 65 percent from parking. That left a $51 million operating budget gap that we filled by:
- Freezing current vacancies and new hires
- Freezing travel and training
- Saving $8.4 million from prior maintenance reserve over-funding
- Reducing Logan Express routes
- Cutting spending on materials and supplies
- Raising $5 million from increased parking fees
- And rolling back senior manager salaries
Yet after all programmatic cuts had been exhausted it was still necessary to cut staff by 15 percent, and save $14.6 million, in order to meet our financial obligations, provide essential services and remain focused on our core mission of operating safe and secure transportation facilities.
Cuts had to be made to the capital budget as well. Last week, the Massport board received our proposal to cut 37 percent, or $280 million, from the Fiscal 2002 and 2003 capital budgets -- deferring 139 projects. Some of the projects affected include construction of the West Concourse at the International Gateway, the US Customs facility at Terminal B and the Terminal B Garage renovation.
Projects that were not affected by these cuts include: the replacement of Terminal A, the expansion and renovation of Terminal E, all roadway work at Logan, routine airfield maintenance projects, and the proposed airside project.
Another unfortunate consequence of Massport's new financial situation is that our ability to support other government projects has been curtailed, and some of the worthwhile community programs Massport has been proud to support in the past will have to be put on hold until things turn around.
And I haven't the slightest doubt that things will turn around, hopefully very soon. The key will be how fast we can restore public confidence in American air travel.
As President Bush has said, freedom and fear cannot coexist. And the faster we meet the publics fear of air travel with real and substantial security improvements, the faster we will recover from the attacks on September 11.
Yes, Logan Airport is safe, and we are making it safer every day. I would get on board a plane at my airport, with my whole family, without a minute's thought or moment's hesitation.
And rallied by this country's united determination to defeat terrorism abroad and conquer fear at home, I know we will do whatever it takes, and spend whatever must be spent, to make air travel in America safer than it has ever been before.
Thank you and I will be happy to take questions.