Airport Officials Balk At Termination Of Contract With LAX Ground Services Firm
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Airport officials opted to not take any immediate action Monday against the largest ground services employer at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in response to allegations of luggage theft and other safety concerns.
Menzies Aviation – which provides cargo handling and other ground services to airlines at LAX – had been targeted in recent months by a string of investigations following the death of a 51-year-old baggage handler in February.
The company employs around 1,000 workers who move cargo and baggage at the airport, according to officials.
The Los Angeles Airport Commission, which oversees LAX and other city-owned airports managed by Los Angeles World Airports, declined to comment on why the commission had scheduled the discussion on the legal impacts of terminating the agreement, which was not announced until Friday.
Frank Dobbelsteijn, general manager of Menzies Aviation, said the fallout of such a move could affect operations at the nation’s second-busiest airport.
“It would be disastrous for many airlines at LAX, for the hardworking men and women Menzies employs at LAX, and for the many subcontractors and suppliers who rely on our business,” Dobbelsteijn said.
But in recent months, Menzies has drawn criticism from state lawmakers and labor union representatives, who say the company has a record of poor safety conditions.
Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu (Torrance) last month called on his colleagues to launch an investigation into working conditions at LAX in response to the death of Carlos Augusto Valenzuela.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has since opened an investigation into the death of Valenzuela, who was struck by a luggage-moving cart after falling from the vehicle on Feb. 21.
Employees of Menzies were also among those detained in an ongoing investigation that began last month into thefts from passenger luggage. All but one of the 19 Menzies employees that were questioned by police have been cleared of any wrongdoing, according to a company spokesperson.
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