Thursday May 22, 2008, 2:30 AM
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will contribute $400 million for automated systems to screen checked baggage for explosives at Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International and La Guardia airports, officials said Wednesday.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports, will accept the funding, which requires a local 10 percent match, according to Anthony Coscia, the agency's chairman.
Such systems use conveyer-belt tracks to move luggage automatically from ticket counters to the bomb-detection machines and then on to the planes. They make the security process more efficient, reduce the prospect of injury to screeners who must otherwise lift heavy bags and clear space in terminals.
"There's a significant benefit from a customer service standpoint,'' said Coscia.
At Newark Liberty, Continental Airlines set up an automated system in Terminal C in recent years and the Port Authority installed one in the parts of Terminal B it has not leased to airlines. Coscia said some of the money could be used to automate the baggage screening process in the rest of Terminal B and Terminal A.
Coscia said he expects airlines that use facilities at Newark, JFK and La Guardia without automated systems will be interested in paying the 10 percent match to gain the federal funding.