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NYC Airports: We Can No Longer Tolerate TSA's 'Inadequacy'

David Kerley and JEffrey cook

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MAY 10, 2016'

Travelers -- it’s not just you.

Management of the New York City area’s three major airports is fed up with long lines at security check points, and they have given the Transportation Security Administration an ultimatum: Either shorten the lines or we’ll find someone else to do it.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, tasked with running John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports, is threatening to privatize the process of screening passengers before boarding their flight, according to a document sent from the Port Authority to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.

“We can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of the TSA passenger services,” the letter obtained by ABC News reads.

According to the Port Authority, the March 15 to April 15 period at JFK saw 253 reported occurrences of 20-plus-minute waits. In 2015, only 10 instances were reported over the same time period.

“The patience of the flying public has reached a breaking point,” the letter reads. Passenger wait times have "risen dramatically in recent months, prompting angry complaints from passengers, terminal operators, and airlines alike citing inconvenience, delayed flights, and missed flight connections."

While the Port Authority says it understands the challenges facing TSA, it says it “is exploring the merits” of participating in private screening “to enhance flexibility in the assignments and operating hours of front line screening staff.”

They wouldn’t be the first.

The busiest airport in the country, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, made a similar threat in February.

There are less than two-dozen airports currently using private screening. Most of these airports are very small. However, there are exceptions.

San Francisco International Airport and Kansas City International Airport both have private firms handling a significant amount of passengers. These firms must meet the same standards and protocols as TSA and pay officers at least what TSA pays.

The airports and firms also must go through a process to get approved.

A TSA spokesperson said the agency is addressing the growing volume of travelers, but that “TSA’s primary focus is the current threat environment, as the American transportation system remains a high value target for terrorists."

TSA said it will respond to the Port Authority directly. The agency said there is no noticeable difference in wait times between federalized and non-federalized screening points. The agency encourages travelers to sign up for TSA Pre or other trusted traveler programs like Global Entry and to arrive at airports at least two hours before a domestic flight.