Houston Airport System Lays Off 130 Employees

More than one hundred employees of the Houston Airport System are getting pink slips. The layoffs are a result of a department review that shows many of the positions are redundant. Laurie Johnson reports.

Unlike other layoffs in the City of Houston, these cuts will not make a dent in the city's budget shortfall.

Mayor Annise Parker's spokeswoman Janice Evans explains.

"The aviation department is called an enterprise fund and therefore it's not funded with property taxes and sales taxes like our general fund is. Its revenue comes from the airlines that utilize the gates there and the fees that they pay. So these layoffs will not help the city in closing that budget gap that we keep talking about in the general fund."

The 130 positions being cut are the result of a top to bottom review by the Houston Airport System's new director. Half of the eliminated positions come from various clerical and operational departments. Evans says the other half come from what's known as the Yellow Shirt Unit.

"They're the ones who wear the yellow shirts and help move traffic and they're in the terminals to answer questions if passengers happen to need some help. They are not security officers. The security at the airport is handled by the federal Transportation Security Administration and the Houston Police Department."

Evans says the cuts will save the Airport System $3 million. They're also doing away with a contract with an outside
security firm and bringing that work in-house.

The employees who were terminated will be considered for rehire for those security positions.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...