Airport aims to streamline security
Times Union | March 14, 2007
COLONIE -- A program to speed registered travelers through security lines at Albany International Airport could be operating by summer.
The Albany County Airport Authority said it will negotiate a contract with New York City-based Verified Identity Pass Inc. to install its Clear Registered Traveler program at the airport.
Albany was one of 20 airports in a pilot program of the Transportation Security Administration that is intended to speed frequent travelers through security checkpoints. If all goes as planned, Albany will be the sixth or seventh airport nationwide to have such a program in place.
Travelers will pay $99.95 a year and undergo a background check by the TSA. Identification cards containing biometric information -- either an iris scan or fingerprint -- will be issued.
The cards will permit them to use the registered-traveler lane at any airport nationwide.
The company said it would begin accepting applications specifically for Albany within 30 days of a contract with the airport. The registered-traveler lane would be operating within 60 days.
The lane would include a shoe scanner that, once approved by the TSA, would allow travelers to keep their shoes on when they go through the metal detector. A separate explosive-trace detector that takes a sample from a fingerprint is also awaiting TSA approval, which is expected before the Clear lane at Albany International Airport actually begins operation.
Verified Identity Pass' founder and chief executive, Steven Brill, said registered travelers at first might pass through some of the same scanners as other travelers. Because of their pre-screening, however, the overall line should move more quickly.
The TSA background check, however, will be "continuous," Brill said.
"If you go on a watch list on Tuesday, your card won't work Wednesday," he said.
Clear's shoe scanner and other equipment were developed by General Electric Co., which is a partner in the program.
After an airport agreement is reached, Clear will bring in a kiosk to collect biometric data from travelers to be used in their identity card. Clear estimates it will sign up more than 25,000 travelers locally in the first year, and that more than 57,000 will join over the first five years.
The airport authority will receive 9 percent of revenue, or about $150,000 in the first year. Over a five-year period, Clear expects to pay the authority $2 million, said airport spokesman Doug Myers.
One attraction of Clear: It already has a registered-traveler lane at Orlando, a popular destination for Albany travelers.
"We have over 200,000 people each year who travel to Orlando," Myers said.
Clear also operates lanes at San Jose, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Kennedy International airports.
Clear was competing with Saflink Corp. of Kirkland, Wash., for the right to operate the registered traveler program at Albany.
Brill estimates Clear will spend from $1.5 million to $2.5 million to get the program running at Albany.