ROMULUS (AP) Detroit Metropolitan Airport will be one of 17 airports across the country to station armed federal marshals at its passenger security checkpoints.
Jim Douglas, the U.S. Marshal for Michigan”s eastern district, said yesterday that the federal officials would work as partners with county security already in place.
It was unclear when flights would resume flying out of Metro, but flights began arriving at the airport yesterday afternoon.
The enhanced security measures will mean only ticketed passengers can go past security checkpoints. Airport director Lester Robinson said county employees will help children, the elderly and disabled travelers get from the gates to where family and friends are waiting.
“Our concern is to come together as a team to ensure the safety of the public,” Wayne County executive Ed McNamara, who had just returned by train from a conference in Montreal, said at a news conference at the airport.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said commercial and private planes would be allowed to fly effective 11 a.m. EDT yesterday. He urged passengers to check with airlines on flight schedules and available service, and allow ample time to deal with new security procedures.
Northwest Airlines spokesman Doug Killian said that pending federal approval, the airline had plans to begin shuttling planes and crews at 6 p.m. Wednesday and then begin a limited number of commercial fights before the end of the day.
But Lois Lagrew of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said she was not going to wait any longer. Her son was driving from Kentucky to pick her up.
“I think it”s terrible what”s happened,” said Lagrew, who had been staying at a hotel since she got stranded here Tuesday. “But everyone has been so cooperative. It”s such a horrible tragedy.”
In 2000, Metro was the world”s sixth-busiest airport in terms of takeoffs and landings and 16th-busiest in terms of passenger traffic, according to the Airports Council International.
Northwest now is building a $2 billion Midfield Terminal, which will add gates for 97 aircraft, a fourth parallel runway, and an 11,500-space parking deck.
The terminal had been expected to include an electronic baggage check-in in the parking garage, but that would not be allowed under the FAA”s new security restrictions.
Although McNamara said officials will have to look at making some minor changes to the terminal”s layout, he said no major structural changes will be made.
Capital City Airport in Lansing also had plans to put planes in the air before the end of the day.
“We”ve been certified, and we”re ready to go,” said Robert Kolt, a spokesman for the airport.
The first scheduled flight out of the airport was a 4:45 p.m. EDT Comair flight to Cincinnati.
The first plane to take off from Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids since the FAA partially lifted its ban on domestic air travel belonged to Southwest Airlines.
The plane was one of seven diverted to the airport on Tuesday. Only crew members were on board when it left shortly after 11 a.m. EDT, airport spokesman Bruce Schedelbauer said. He was unaware of its destination.
The amount of U.S. air traffic will depend on the status of other airports and the decisions of airlines as to which flights will be flown, he said.
“Just because we flipped the switch and we”re ready to go doesn”t necessarily mean we have airplanes in the air immediately,” Schedelbauer said. “It will likely take not just hours but literally days before we can get passengers and airplanes and crew and everything else that”s necessary back into place.”
Because of the extensive, government-mandated security measures now in place at the airport, airport officials recommended that passengers arrive a couple of hours before their flights are scheduled to depart.
“It”s going to take us a little while to get back to normal, that much seems clear,” said Stephen Cassens, director of the Cherry Capital Airport.
The airport, which is in Traverse City, also reopened with increased security in place.