Pilot Program at IAH Could Speed the Way for Arriving International Passengers
The Houston Airport System (HAS) continues to work closely with the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Agency in finding ways to minimize the amount of time required for the processing of arriving international passengers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
This effort took a major step forward this week as Houston was chosen by CBP leadership to take part in a pilot program that’s designed to increase the level of service during key designated periods.
“A big reason for the success of Houston’s economy is its strong presence in the global marketplace,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “In order for this presence to be strengthened in the future, we have to move our airport guests through the arrivals process as efficiently as possible. This program could prove to be very beneficial in reaching that goal.”
Under the program, HAS would be allowed to participate in reimbursable fee agreements with the CBP agency, essentially agreeing to assist in the payment of overtime expenses, in exchange for greater agent presence during agreed upon times.
IAH was one of only five facilities invited to move forward with the proposed CBP partnership, joining two other airport facilities and two land border agencies. Four of the five accepted parties are from Texas, signaling a strong willingness from the states’ elected leaders in moving forward.
"Our successful trading relationship with Mexico has the potential to create even more jobs and opportunities for Texans and this move by the CBP is the first step towards achieving these goals," says Texas Senator John Cornyn.
"I am pleased to announce that CBP is moving forward with a number of public/private partnerships to help support growth in cross-border trade and travel," says Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. "These authorities afford CBP greater flexibility to work together with our stakeholders to support growth in trade and travel."
When evaluating the nation’s busiest airports for international traffic, George Bush Intercontinental Airport already operates with one of the most efficient Customs processing operations in the United States. But the search for even more effective procedures and measures is an ongoing focal point at IAH.
Previously, this focus led IAH to establish itself as the first “Model Port” in the nation, allowing the airport to participate in a wide range of pilot programs designed to increase efficiency within the required steps for Customs processing. The Houston Airport System has also taken aggressive steps in maximizing the potential that lies within approved expedited traveler programs such “Global Entry” and “One Stop.”
“We will continue to explore ways to improve the arrivals process for passengers flying into Houston aboard international flights,” says Mario Diaz, City of Houston Aviation Director. “These passengers are incredibly important to Houston both economically and culturally. We want them to have a positive experience in our city from the moment their plane touches the runway and maximizing efficiency is a great start in creating that atmosphere.”
The Houston Airport System has already been working closely with the CBP in establishing a bench line for the amount of time currently required to process arriving international passengers.