TSA federalizes Rota International Airport, Northern Marianas

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National Press Release
Monday, May 15, 2006

WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today the successful federalization of Rota International Airport, Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). Small and remote, the island airport provides direct commercial airline service to Guam and Japan. There are now over 450 airports with a federal TSA presence.

“The threat to civil aviation on Rota is no less than anywhere on the U.S. mainland,” said Rhonda Vickery, TSA Federal Security Director of Saipan, who also oversees security and screening operations in Rota. “Commercial service from Rota connects with mainstream airports and provides the TSA with another opportunity to do all we can to provide for the security of passengers.”

TSA has worked with local authorities for several months to ensure federal standards are met at the security checkpoint and around the airport. In addition to providing federal Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), TSA is responsible for oversight of the airport’s security plan and working to ensure each airline meets the agency’s security standards.

“I fully support the federalization of all CNMI airports, including Saipan, Tinian, and Rota,” said Governor Benigno R. Fitial. “When it comes to aviation and security matters, I believe the entire CNMI is better off with TSA involvement and support. I'm glad the Rota International Airport will have the full support of TSA, and I look forward to federal security oversight at our Tinian airport as well." (Tinian Airport is scheduled to be federalized later this year.)

TSOs receive 44 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of on-the-job training. In addition, they must meet minimum qualifications including: U.S. citizenship; high school degree, a GED or equivalent, or one year of security or aviation screening experience; English proficiency; and passing a background check. The salary of a TSO ranges from $23,600 to $35,400 depending upon experience and locality pay. In addition, TSOs receive federal benefits including health insurance, life insurance, retirement, paid vacation and sick leave.

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act signed by President Bush on November 19, 2001, mandated that TSA deploy federal passenger and baggage security officers to all commercial airports and that TSA screen all checked and carry-on luggage for explosives.

For more information about TSA, visit www.tsa.gov.