Missoula airport puts privatization wheels in motion

The Missoula County Airport Authority officially set the wheels in motion Tuesday to replace federal Transportation Security Administration screeners (TSA) at Missoula International Airport with a private security firm.

The airport authority selected Chicago-based Covenant Aviation, which has an office in Anaconda, from three proposals submitted by private firms. Covenant provides security at airports in San Francisco and Sioux Falls, and appears well positioned to woo Montana Airport managers who are increasingly leading the privatization movement.

Specifics have yet to be ironed out and may be tackled during next month’s airport authority meeting, says Missoula International Airport Director Cris Jensen.

If all goes as planned, Covenant could replace federal employees by September, Jensen says. But the deal has yet to be sealed. Before getting the official go-ahead, airport management must apply with the TSA to opt out of federal security.

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