Express Airport Security Set To Resume

Alclear purchases assets of popular -- but defunct -- airport express security provider, Clear, and prepares to restart the service this autumn.
Airport queue-jumpers rejoice: The express security Clear lines are set to be back up and running again by this fall.

This week, Alclear LLC announced that it had acquired the assets -- database, kiosks and brand -- of Verified Identity Pass (VIP), parent company of Clear, for $6 million in a federal bankruptcy proceeding on April 16. Now, Alclear plans to re-launch the program by this fall.

First, however, it must negotiate new deals with airports, since the bankruptcy court invalidated the previously existing agreements.

According to Alclear, the subscription fee for unlimited use will be $179 per year, down from $200. For an additional $50, members can also buy a family plan.

Clear -- the most successful of several airport express security offerings -- allowed subscribers to move to the head of the security line in 18 airports after verifying their identify using a fingerprint or iris scan.

Clear's operations were in effect until VIP entered bankruptcy in June 2009, when it failed to negotiate a new deal with creditors, putting the program on ice. To members' ire, none of their annual fees were refunded either, leading some to sue the company, although the bankruptcy court judge threw out their claim.

Now, Alclear faces the challenge of rebuilding relationships with former subscribers. The company said it will contact the nearly 160,000 previous members to offer to apply their previous subscriptions to the new program -- as well as begin new customer enrollment -- starting this summer.

"We are working to build our footprint and re-introduce the program. We look forward to partnering with airports nationwide, regulators and lawmakers to ensure Clear's success," said Caryn Seidman-Becker, Clear's chairman and CEO, in a statement. She previously ran Arience Capital Management, a now defunct New York-based hedge fund. Company co-founder Kenneth Cornick hails from the same firm.

The company's board of directors will include Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Massachusetts Port Authority CEO Craig Coy and Robert LaPenta, who runs L-1 Identity Solutions, which had provided biometric equipment for the old VIP program.

According to a statement released by L-1, it will provide the "hardware, software, integration and operation of the new program in all airports when related contracts are finalized and the program is implemented."