Not to be the pessimist, but we'll believe it when we see it.
Getting through customs at some major U.S. airports is about to get quicker.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency plans to increase the number of hours its staff can work at locations including Los Angeles International Airport and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, a move that it expects to boost tourism and economic growth. The measure lets airport operators and state and local governments reimburse the CBP for the extra work as the number of international travelers grow.
As many as eight airport operators — Orlando, Denver, San Francisco also among them — can request additional hours from workers to reduce wait times and handle high volumes of passengers traveling on international flights, the CBP said in a statement today. The plan also applies to border crossings in Texas as well as shipping ports in Florida, Delaware and Pennsylvania to help improve processing and inspection times.
“This is a major next step to facilitate growing volumes of trade and travel coming across our borders,” Kevin McAleenan, acting deputy commissioner at the CBP, said in an interview. “We have had stagnant officer levels since 2009, slightly reduced overtime and increasing international travel.”
Reimbursable services under the agreements include customs, agricultural processing, border security and immigration inspection at ports of entry.
This year, the CBP began accords with operators of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Miami International and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The added staff, additional lane openings and other technology efforts helped decrease wait times by almost 30 percent while traveler volume increased 7 percent, the CBP said. Agreements were also set at the City of El Paso and the South Texas Assets Consortium.
“Our current agreements are helping out a lot in the summer,” said McAleenan. The other agreements have yet to be negotiated and signed by authorities at the selected locations. They were chosen based on need and are open ended agreements with no term limitations, he said.
Photo credit: A foreign airline passenger is greeted by a Customs and Border Protection Officer at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Tami Chappell / Reuters