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Conveying a message to fliers

June 23, 2004

Jackson Bell

Bob Hope Airport will move baggage-inspection stations from the

sidewalks and add six new wheelchair- accessible shuttles to its

fleet later this year.

Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority commissioners voted

7-0 earlier this week to buy a $3-million conveyor system for four

state-of-the-art screening machines that will be operational after

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the Thanksgiving travel rush, Airport Authority President Charles

Lombardo said.

Airport security now scans arriving travelers' luggage on the

sidewalk in front of the main entrance or at the ticket counter.

Passengers can still drop off their luggage at the two sites after

Thanksgiving, but attendants will cart the items to a 40,000-

square-foot space built in July between the terminal and the runway.

"This will free up the sidewalk and make things much more

efficient for people, and their transaction time will be much

quicker," Lombardo said. "It's a safety and convenience issue."

Screeners now check baggage with technology that searches for

traces of explosives. The new machines use monitors to screen baggage

contents, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

Airlines, unhappy with past screening machines, advised the

Airport Authority to hold off on installing the technology until

better versions were released, Gill said. But the federal

Transportation Security Administration said the CTX machines -- which

are in high demand at other airports -- must be installed in a

"timely fashion" or the Bob Hope Airport would lose its rights to the

equipment.

The total cost of the conveyor system, installing it and hiring a

maintenance worker is expected to cost the airport $3.4 million. The

TSA spent $8 million to purchase the new scanning machines since it

operates the equipment.

"They should be up and running before Thanksgiving," Gill said.

"But it's pretty doubtful we'll use them until after Thanksgiving

because it's the busiest travel time of the year and we don't want to

work out the bugs during that time."

Airport Authority commissioners also voted to add six new shuttle

buses, which will cost nearly $1.3 million, Gill said. The

diesel-fueled buses, which will be running within six months, pollute

less than older models and are more accessible for wheelchairs.

Six of the fleet's nine buses, used to shuttle passengers to and

from parking lots, will be retired.

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