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LAX baggage screening facility working at only half capacity

March 19, 2012 |  8:05 pm

 Tom Bradley terminal at LAX, where baggage handling is operating at half-capacity
A $140-million baggage screening facility that was part of a recent remodel of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport has been able to process only about half the luggage it was designed to handle, airport officials said Monday.

Deputy Airport Director Roger Johnson said the facility, which relies on a complicated system of conveyors to feed bags into and out of security scanners, was supposed to screen 3,240 pieces of luggage an hour but has been processing between 1,500 and 1,800 bags an hour.

Because of the problem, Johnson said that occasionally during peak travel times bags have had to be taken to the nearby American Airlines terminal so to be scanned before being returned to Bradley and loaded onto international flights.

“It has not been that often, but it is problematic,” Johnson said.

He attributed the capacity issues to inadequate operational procedures, not breakdowns of the machinery, which is housed in a 45,000-square-foot annex that was included in a $737-million remodel of the Bradley Terminal that was completed in 2010.

If the problem continues, airport officials are concerned there will not be enough capacity to scan luggage when the ongoing expansion of the terminal is finished in 2013. The $1.9-billion project calls for a million square feet of additional space, two new concourses and 18 gates -- six more than the facility has now.

Johnson said the airport has hired two consulting firms to look into the problem and recommend solutions. He added that they will study the operational constraints of the current system, evaluate how airlines now process their baggage and the computer programs for the system.

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Photo: Travelers walk through LAX's Tom Bradley Terminal, where a $140-million baggage screening facility has been able to process only about half the luggage it was designed to handle. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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