Great Falls airport privatizing security screening

The Great Falls Airport Authority has opted to privatize security screening, phasing out the U.S. Transportation Security Administration for a private contractor.

The board voted to make the move earlier this year and TSA approved the privatization in February.

The contractor, Defense Consulting Services, takes over Nov. 1.

John Faulkner, airport director, said that the contractor had hired some of the people who had been working at the airport for TSA and hired more at a recent job fair.

He said that to start the company was also bringing in staff from out of town as they get fully staffed and train the local staff.

Faulkner said the airport had a hard time keeping TSA coverage due to low staffing and that prompted the privatization.

He said the contractor is more flexible in hiring part-time employees, which will help increase staffing since TSA preferred full-time employees.

Faulkner said it was also difficult to have customer service conversations with a federal agency so he anticipates that also improving.

Several TSA employees spoke at an airport board meeting over the summer asking them to reconsider their decision to privatize.

The change will not impact TSA Pre-Check at the airport, Faulkner said.