Airport employees pass through the screening checkpoint. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials are implementing a new security screening process for employees. The new screening procedures soft launched this week and full screening begins September 8, 2015.

Hartsfield-Jackson launches employee screening

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this week opened its new employee screening checkpoint to boost security checks of workers, in response to a gun-running scheme involving a baggage handler that was uncovered late last year.

Airport workers previously were not all required to pass through security checkpoints. But that is changing.

The checkpoint on the mezzanine level below the main floor of the airport’s domestic terminal is now in a “soft launch” phase. The three-lane employee screening checkpoint will be operating in full force starting Sept. 8.

The checkpoint is expected to screen more than 27,000 badged employees a week, which averages out to close to 4,000 employees a day. The airport aims to process employees in 3 to 5 minutes, and officials said each lane can screen 280 employees an hour.

“We work hard every day to make the airport one of the world’s most secure airports,” said Michael Smith, deputy general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson. The airport has spent some $12 million on boosting employee screening, including the new security checkpoint, personnel, inspections and other security measures.

The new employee screening checkpoint, with an entrance across from the TGI Friday’s near the airport atrium, is not open to passengers.

A total of 40,000 employees at the airport work in secure areas, and the airport wants all of them to have the expectation that they may go through screening. But not all of them will go through the new checkpoint.

Employees of the airport’s biggest operator, Delta Air Lines, won’t use the checkpoint. The airline says it will continue spot checks at employee shuttle lots and plans more extensive screening in the future.

Concessions workers also go through TSA checkpoints, while flight crews go through an expedited screening process.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.