WASHINGTON—Air travelers are waiting longer and longer at security checkpoints in numerous airports, and airlines and congressional leaders are warning of possible gridlock this summer as air travel reaches record highs in some cities.
Concerns are mounting as the Transportation Security Administration, created after the Sept. 11 attacks to protect airports, has struggled to hire security screeners and left some airports understaffed.
Last year, the TSA cut 14,000 screener positions to reduce its screener work force to 45,000, a level mandated by Congress and now criticized by aviation and airport officials as inadequate. The number dropped to about 44,000 this year as screeners left and were not immediately replaced.
At the same time, the agency increased its non-screening personnel by about 600 employees, adding to its staff of 5,600 administrators, attorneys and analysts, according to personnel records.
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