DALLAS The nation’s major airlines told the government yesterday that the cost of new security measures would be from $5 and $25 per round-trip ticket.
The major carriers were under a deadline to submit to the Transportation Security Administration estimates on how much they would have to charge passengers to pay for the increasing cost of airline security after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The new agency must decide how big a fee to tack on to tickets. The surcharge now is $2.50 per leg.
The transportation-security agency suggested yesterday in a report to Congress setting up a toll-free telephone hot line on commercial aircraft for passengers to use in an emergency and running background checks on frequent fliers before they arrive at the airport to avoid delays.
The Transportation Security Administration also said it will need 57,500 employees to screen airline passengers and luggage.
In its report, it says it needs 30,000 workers to staff airport checkpoints and screen passengers and 27,500 to inspect checked luggage for explosives.
The 57,500 employees do not include armed air marshals on airplanes or a federal police force to be deployed at airport checkpoints. While Transportation Department Inspector General Kenneth M. Mead originally estimated the agency could need more than 70,000 employees, the department later said it would hire no more than 67,000.
The strategies in the report are part of the new security ideas being considered as the Bush administration warns that a terrorist attack could come at any time.
New technologies will play a central role in any new security procedures at airports and airlines, John Magaw, head of the Transportation Security Administration, said at a speech to the American Association of Airline Executives’ annual conference.
“I believe that is absolutely key,” he said. The transportation-security agency has a working group of what Mr. Magaw called “technology-savvy people” whose main task is to find and assess new transportation-security technologies.
Many of them will be tested at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which the Transportation Department is using as a national test site for aviation-security technologies and procedures.
“The entire state of Maryland has been very supportive in getting this airport moving along,” Mr. Magaw said. “These lessons learned will be moved forward.”
Donald J. Carty, president and chief executive of AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, said he was concerned that too much security vigilance would hurt the airline industry and its customers.
“I don’t think great security comes from strip-searching Aunt Molly from Iowa,” he said.
He denied that airlines were given adequate warning from the FBI to avoid the September 11 attack, which used United and American airlines planes to fly into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, saying warnings were too vague for airlines to take specific action. “They have been fairly general in the past,” he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday that it did not warn airlines after the arrest in August of student-pilot Zacarias Moussaoui because they believed his confinement ended a threat against aviation.
FAA spokesman Scott Brenner said the FBI told the agency about Moussaoui’s arrest just weeks before the attacks.
“Nothing they told us was evidence that there was imminent threat, and as a result, we issued no bulletins to the airlines or airports,” he said. “All we knew was he was in jail. As a result of him being in jail, we did not think a threat was imminent.”
Moussaoui, who the FBI says trained at an al Qaeda-affiliated camp in Afghanistan, has been charged as a conspirator in the attacks. He was arrested in August while training at a Minnesota flight school, after the FBI became suspicious of his efforts to receive training in flying passenger jets.
Mr. Carty said the attack should prompt the nation to take preventive action rather than worry about past failings.
“I think this game of finding someone to blame for 9/11 has gotten us on the wrong track,” he said.
Federal officials at the conference said improved communication among government security agencies is the best defense against a terrorist attack.
“We have to tie our intelligence units together,” Mr. Magaw said. He added that a lack of coordination among government agencies contributed to intelligence oversights leading to the September 11 attacks.
“All of us are looking for the way to assure we have a seamless system of information,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce aviation subcommittee. “We are trying to assure that all our agencies are communicating.”
She also played down the risk that federal security agencies would ignore again the kinds of warnings about a terrorist hijacking that preceded the September 11 attack.
“We weren’t alert before September 11,” she said. “We are now.”
Mr. Magaw said the Transportation Security Administration must depend on the CIA and the FBI for its security warnings.
“We are not going to duplicate,” he said.
Mr. Magaw also recommended against panic about Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s statement this weekend that another terrorist attack is likely soon.
“This is not going to go away. They are in no hurry. They will take their time. They will look for weaknesses,” he said.