A new phase in airport security began Friday. Oklahoma National Guard troops have been called upon to help keep the public safe. That includes the Tulsa International Airport.
News on Six reporter Diane White says the troops are being used to beef up security at the airport. Members of the Oklahoma National Guard spent Friday morning getting ready for their first day of work at the airport. There are 22 members in all. They'll rotate in groups of 7 working 12 hours shifts.
Guardsmen will be posted at the security checkpoints leading into the terminals. The rest will be patrolling the grounds and the streets around the airport. The timing is good because business at the airport is picking up. Tulsa Airport Authority director Brent Kitchen says, "Every day more and more passengers are coming through Tulsa International. Our airlines are about 75% to 80% of their flights. Southwest and Great Plains 100% of their flights. Load factors are averaging 50% or above and bookings for the next two weeks are even higher than that." And it should get busier as we get closer to the holiday season.
The National Guard will be here during the holiday time period. They're expected to be here about 6 months, while the federal government prepares to take over the security checkpoints.