TSA scanners in full use at Vero Airport
The Transportation Security Administration’s scanning equipment arrived at the Vero Beach Regional Airport just in time for the holiday rush.
Installed and tested two Mondays ago, the metal-detector-type scanners were in full use Sunday morning, when two Elite Airways flights departed for Liberty Airport in Newark, N.J., serving both northern New Jersey and the New York City area.
“The regular flight filled up fast, so they added a second jet,” Vero Beach Regional Airport Director Eric Menger said. “The service has been very well received, which isn’t surprising. There are a lot of people here from the New York-New Jersey area.
“We’ve been very busy during the holidays, and the feedback on both sides has been positive,” he added. “I know Elite is very pleased with the bookings.”
The passenger-scanning equipment at the local airport, where Elite began twice-per-week service between Vero Beach and Newark on Dec. 10, are not the new, full-body, advanced-imaging scanners installed by the TSA at major airports throughout the U.S. shortly before the busy holiday travel season.
Menger said the luggage scanners at the Vero Beach airport utilize the latest technology, but he was unsure if the TSA has plans to install the newest passenger-scanning equipment here.
Given the cost of the new scanners, it’s unlikely the TSA would make such an investment in a small airport that offers only two commercial flights. However, if Elite – or another airline – sees that there’s a market here, service could be expanded.
“Any airline is going to want to make sure the community supports the service,” Menger said. “That seems to be the case so far, and we hope that continues. If it does, maybe they’ll add another destination.”
Until this past weekend, the TSA – with crews from West Palm Beach and Melbourne – had performed all security checks on passengers as well as on luggage by hand. There had been few complaints from local passengers, though.
Vero-area residents were just happy to have direct air service to the New York area and the 50-seat Canadian-made Bombardier commuter jets that Elite uses on the service did not cause use backups in the security lines.
The arrival of the scanning equipment, however, is just one more sign that Vero Beach Regional Airport with the call letters VRB has now taken its place on the map as a regular destination.
Elite Airways, which is based in Portland, Maine, and had until recently been mainly a charter airline for traveling sports teams, is taking reservations on the Vero Beach-Newark route through April.