New TSA director appointed for Orland International Airport

Jul. 6--A new federal security director will take the helm at Orlando International Airport in August, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Lee Kair, an executive director at TSA headquarters in Northern Virginia, will replace Art Meinke, who has held the position at OIA since 2004. Meinke will transfer to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, the TSA said.

"It's a lateral move for Art, and a good opportunity for the TSA to bring someone with headquarters experience to the field," said Christopher White, a TSA spokesman. "Lee will be an asset to the TSA in the airport community."

Kair, who grew up on Sanibel Island, has held various positions for the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies. He has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in government contract management.

Kair is currently executive director for the TSA's Office of Inter-Agency Operations. Under his management, the office developed an enhanced training program for detecting homemade bombs and revamped the hiring process for security officers, switching from a centralized process to one overseen by local TSA executives.

"We've found that we're able to hire more candidates more quickly," White said, adding local directors know their areas best.

At Orlando International, Kair will face several security initiatives already under way at the airport.

The nation's only registered-traveler program debuted at OIA in July 2005. The TSA planned to roll out such programs at additional airports across the country in June but delayed it.

In conjunction with Orlando's registered-traveler program, a new security machine is in the works. The scanner will search airline passengers' shoes for explosives and their skin for traces of bomb materials. It will also match their fingerprints to a database.

The TSA is also working with private baggage handlers as part of a new system that launched at the airport in May. The private employees provide line management and baggage handling in an effort to free up TSA workers for security screening.

Airport officials expect to continue work as usual with the TSA.

"We will continue to work with the TSA to provide the level of security and customer service that our passengers expect and deserve," Steve Gardner, the airport's interim executive director, said through an airport spokeswoman.

Sara K. Clarke can be reached at or 407-420-5664.

<<Orlando Sentinel, The (FL) (KRT) -- 07/07/06>>