The Transportation Security Administration says it has intercepted the highest number of firearms at Alabama’s largest airports this year.
TSA spokesman Sari Koshetz said TSA officers assigned to the vacation wave encountered not only high numbers of passengers but also people carrying guns.
At Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, officers have intercepted 55 firearms so far in 2021. Nineteen firearms have been recovered from Huntsville International Airport and 14 other firearms have been found at the regional airport of Mobile.
This is the highest combined number on record at the state’s largest airports, the TSA reported.
The figures follow national trends.
TSA agents arrested 4,495 passengers who attempted to carry guns at airport security checkpoints in the first nine months of 2021, the agency said last month, setting a record high of 20 years.
Alabama’s international airports are busier this week as depressed air traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rebound. According to the TSA, about 2.2 million people nationwide passed through airport checkpoints on Tuesday, about 200,000 fewer than two years ago on the same day, but 1 million more than 2020.
BHM is now expecting 4,799 passengers, more than 92% of its 2019 number. Huntsville International Airport is reporting around 80% of its 2019 traffic this month.
“We have adequate staff for the vacation wave and always make sure we coordinate with the airport and with the airlines on their schedules and passenger volumes,” Koshetz said. “We ask passengers to arrive two hours early even if they are used to short lines. And we ask everyone to make sure there are no prohibited items in their hand luggage. “