TSA names its airports of the year

Thursday, January 7, 2021
MIA checkpoint photo

Big or small, all airports play a crucial role in protecting the nation’s travelers. TSA honored four airports – two large, two smaller – with the agency’s top honor – 2020 Airport of the Year.

Miami International Airport and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport were named CAT X-I Airports of the Year, while CAT II-IV Airport of the Year honors went to Ohio’s Akron-Canton Airport and Oregon’s Mahlon Sweet Field, Eugene Airport.

Miami International Airport (MIA)

For the second time, Miami International received TSA’s Airport of the Year Award.

“The Airport of the Year Award is emblematic of the entire airport community,” said Miami Federal Security Director Dan Ronan. “Even though the award is for the TSA Miami workforce, we could not have received that recognition if it were not for the incredible partnerships we have with the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, Miami-Dade Police and Fire Departments, Customs and Border Protection, and the airlines.”

TSA MIA faced a year of challenges, including extremely large passenger loads during and after Super Bowl LIV and the installation of new technology equipment, which included 10 computed tomography machines, credential authentication technology at every checkpoint, and new robotic baggage movers incorporated into a new in-line screening system. 

TSA MIA's screening efforts also received accolades in the annual J.D. Power survey of airports, and TSA’s partnership with the airport resulted in MIA being one of two airports to receive the Airports Council International accreditation for COVID-19 control measures.

The TSA team in Miami launched “boot camp” immersion training for officers promoted into roles with more responsibility. The goal was to rapidly bring them up to speed while adding training and deployment opportunities for MIA-based TSA K-9 teams.

MIA's Transportation Security Explosives team trained 855 TSA and stakeholder personnel through classroom instruction, covert drills and shift briefings and trained with local law enforcement officers for bomb prevention and response.

Ronan said, “The success of the entire operation, while meeting challenges well above and beyond normal years, reflects the dedication and sincere commitment the entire TSA MIA team has toward each other and the TSA mission.”

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

IAH aerial photo
An aerial view of George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Photo courtesy of flyhouston.com)

For the second consecutive year, TSA named George Bush Intercontinental Airport of the Year.

“The TSA team in Houston consists of more than 1,100 employees from frontline TSA officers to inspectors, canine handlers, explosives experts, managers, program analysts and a host of others who work together every single day of the year to ensure that we protect the traveling public,” said IAH Federal Security Director Juan Sanchez. “Our team demonstrates their commitment daily through their hard work, professionalism and commitment.”

Sanchez emphasized the successful partnership TSA has with the Houston Airport System, the Houston Police Department, the airlines, and more than 800 federal, state and local stakeholder groups that make up the more than 20,000 people who work at the airport.

Accountability remains a key focus for TSA IAH. Screening Operations conducted a two-day boot camp for supervisors, gathering participants together to discuss processes, leadership development and mentoring while exchanging ideas with TSA leadership at IAH. Dozens of TSA employees took part in special coaching and mentorship training.

“We are honored to be named TSA's 2020 Airport of the Year,” Houston Airports Director Mario Diaz said. “On behalf of the entire team at Bush Airport and the traveling public, I also congratulate the George Bush Intercontinental Airport TSA team for their invaluable commitment to safety and efficiency throughout this challenging year. We truly appreciate their unwavering dedication to their duties.”  

Akron-Canton Airport (CAK)

Members of the Akron-Canton Airport PM shift photo
Members of the Akron-Canton Airport PM shift. (Photo courtesy of TSA CAK)

TSA selected Akron-Canton as one of the two 2020 CAT II-IV Airports of the Year.

TSA CAK took steps to improve the workplace by forming a cross-functional focus group to strengthen the workplace and reaffirming their oath of office.

“I am proud of the Akron-Canton team that consists of more than 70 employees who are all deserving of the 2020 TSA’s Airport of the Year Category II-IV Award,” said Ohio Federal Security Director (FSD) Don Barker. “During the pandemic, this team of professionals used focus groups to have periodic discussions and team activities to promote personal responsibility by every member of the organization. I appreciate their hard work, professionalism and commitment.”

Assistant FSD Rickey Jones added, “The result is an ongoing cultural reset with significant and ongoing accomplishments.”

“Leadership, at its core, is about being personal,” TSA Officer Gregory Haymon noted.

“It’s a small airport where we all know each other,” said Supervisory Officer Ryan Schweitzer. “Since the start of the work group, there is more communication, better relationships with upper management, and an overall feeling that someone does care about resolving workforce issues.”

Training Manager Mark Robertson said the focus group “provided a great opportunity to establish and grow trust among our workforce at all levels.”

TSA Officer Patty Martin said, “The sky is the limit.”

Mahlon Sweet Field, Eugene Airport (EUG)

An aerial view of Eugene Airport photo+
An aerial view of Eugene Airport. (Photo courtesy of eugene-airport.com)

Eugene, Oregon’s Mahlon Sweet Field was recognized as the top airport of its size for outstanding local leadership, commitment to empowering employees and working with stakeholders to ensure a superior passenger experience for the traveling public. 

TSA EUG developed an initiative named “Building Effective EUG Security,” or BEES, to focus on security awareness and engagement across the airport community.

“The synergy between TSA’s regulatory and EUG’s security teams is strong, BEES being an example,” said Oregon TSA Stakeholder Manager Steven Bird. “BEES keeps the focus on immediate notification of security issues for all airport tenants, whether they're operating at the terminal or the farthest corners of the airport.” 

TSA EUG initiated training opportunities with live fire explosive demonstrations, raised awareness about human trafficking, and supported "Stop the Bleed," an effort to place trauma kits in designated locations throughout the airport. 

With wildfires raging in the area and the coronavirus pandemic disrupting daily life, TSA EUG never wavered in its leadership, commitment and passion for each other and the public.

“Committing to our people is as natural to EUG’s TSA leadership as breathing,” Bird said. “They're aware that a team's success, recognizing individual needs, and ensuring the mission is accomplished all have to be addressed daily with fairness and consistency. Participation in national, state, and local initiatives is highly encouraged to improve officer engagement.”

Congratulations to all! Each airport is critical to TSA’s mission, no matter how big or small.