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Head of agency that runs Logan Airport resigns

Logan International Airport is run by Massport, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which hires some 1,200 people.
Logan International Airport is run by Massport, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which hires some 1,200 people.  

BOSTON (CNN) -- The head of the agency that runs Logan International Airport, starting point for the two hijacked flights that brought about the destruction of the World Trade Center, has announced that she's resigning.

Virginia Buckingham, 36, director of Massport -- the Massachusetts Port Authority -- said she had overseen the return of public confidence in travel from the airport since the September 11 attacks, which left about 5,000 people dead.

"I feel the authority is back on course," said Buckingham, who told the board last week that she is more than three months pregnant. "I also feel that this is the right time for me to move on."

Buckingham said her resignation, which she submitted to acting Gov. Jane Swift, will be effective November 15.

"I believe that my departure will give the governor more flexibility as she restructures state government to confront this new era of terrorism threats."

Logan is expected to become one of the first United States airports to test face-recognition technology  in the search for better air-travel security.

Since September 11, Buckingham has hired a security expert who worked with Israeli airports, guaranteed the airport's financial stability and restored the flying public's confidence in Logan, she said.

A new aviation security chief will be selected next month. Buckingham expressed confidence that "whoever is selected will meet the new security challenges before us."

Buckingham's departure is not the first personnel change in recent weeks. Since the attacks, Joseph Lawless, the agency's director of security, was reassigned to another part of Massport.

Buckingham noted that the hijackings had fundamentally changed the nature of her job. "Six weeks ago, 19 hijackers changed our lives forever," she said. "In an instant, the air travel system that gives us the freedom to go where we want to go, to do what we want to do and to be with the people who matter most to us was transformed into an instrument of fear.

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"The fact that our airport was used in an unimaginable plot that killed thousands of innocent people is something I will carry in my heart and in my mind forever."

In testimony Tuesday before a hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation Security Oversight, Buckingham said she has cooperated with state and federal authorities investigating the attacks. "No one wants to find out exactly what happened more than we do, so that we can prevent it from ever happening again," she said.

And, she added, "Logan Airport is safe, and we are making it safer every day. I would get on board a plane at my airport, with my whole family, without a minute's thought or moment's hesitation."

James Coull, vice chairman of Massport's board of directors, said the decision to quit was Buckingham's alone, and the board had wanted her to continue in the job.

"We really regret to see Ginny decide to do this," he told CNN. "I think she just decided she didn't want to go through any more ordeals."

He said neither Buckingham nor the board is to blame for letting the terrorists board the planes. "What (the hijackers) took on was allowed. That was the unfortunate fact. There was very little we could have done to prevent it."



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