Head of security for US TSA sacked after agency criticised for long lines at airports

Kelly Hoggan, head of security for the US Transportation Security Administration.
Kelly Hoggan, head of security for the US Transportation Security Administration.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The head of security for the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been removed from his position, according to an internal TSA memo on Monday seen by Reuters, after the agency was criticised for long lines at airport security checkpoints.

Kelly Hoggan, who had served as TSA assistant administrator for security operations since May 2013, was replaced by his deputy, Darby LaJoye, who will serve on an acting basis, according to the memo from agency head Peter Neffenger.

Long security lines at US airports this spring have frustrated travelers and caused thousands of passengers to miss flights. TSA has blamed the problem on a lack of security screeners and an increase in passenger volumes.

Hoggan came under fire at a US House Oversight Committee hearing on May 12 for receiving over US$90,000 (S$124,165) in bonuses and awards over a 13-month period in 2013-14.

Earlier this month, TSA said it would add screeners at the country's busiest airports.

About 231 million passengers will fly on US airlines from June through August, up 4 per cent from the same period last year, according to trade group Airlines for America.

In the memo, Neffenger said TSA is doing a better job of moving passengers through security at Chicago's O'Hare Airport after particularly long lines at the nation's second-busiest airport made national news several weeks ago.

He also said TSA has established a National Incident Command Centre at agency headquarters in Washington to track daily screening operations nationwide and shift resources in advance of higher predicted passenger volumes.

A TSA spokesman said the agency does not comment on personnel matters.