Long Island, NY - January 29, 2016 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. Department of Customers and Border Protection (CBP) to work hand-in-glove with Long Island MacArthur Airport as it designs a brand new Customs facility to attract and accommodate commercial international flights. Long Island MacArthur Airport and community officials have already committed to moving forward with a plan that would allow the airport to provide international flights. In order to move forward, the airport must design and construct a customs facility and gain approval as a “User Fee Airport.”
Suffolk County, the Town of Islip, and New York State have collectively pledged the funding needed to move this project forward. However, Schumer today said that close coordination with CBP would help ensure that the facility is constructed to all necessary federal requirements and specifications and therefore, pave the way for future approval by CBP. Schumer explained that close coordination and active input from CBP is critical to ensuring resources and time are not wasted.
“A customs facility at Macarthur should be a federal priority because it could give Long Islanders direct access to some of the most popular tourist destinations, while simultaneously bolstering economic activity and job creation in the region. We cannot delay in making this facility a reality and that’s why Customs should work closely with MacArthur Airport so that time and resources are not wasted,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
Schumer’s latest push to get CBP to work with MacArthur to build a full customs facility at the airport follows his successful push two years ago to get approval for a smaller facility that allowed for processing capabilities for charter and private flights from international destinations as well as a USDA inspection facility for international cargo. That smaller facility, which is currently in use, allows for one-time screening of private flights, but is not permanently staffed and cannot support larger and frequent international commercial flights. The full inspection facility that MacArthur is now pursuing will greatly expand their inspection capabilities and therefore increase the airport’s ability to attract new and expanding service.
The Long Island MacArthur Airport currently provides air travel with Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. The airport provides non-stop flights to Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Philadelphia.
Before it can accommodate international travel, the airport must construct a customs facility and gain approval as a “User Fee Airport” (UFA). This designation is given to small airports that have been approved by CBP to receive, for a fee, the services of a CBP officer for the processing of aircraft entering the United States and their passengers and cargo. CBP cannot official approve MacArthur Airport as a UFA until the customs facility is at least 85 percent complete. Schumer today said that this should not prevent CBP from engaging in an active and open dialog with the community as they move forward. Schumer explained that by working hand-in-glove with Long Island MacArthur Airport, CBP can make sure that the customs facility is built and approved without delay.
Schumer explained that an international airport at MacArthur would bolster economic activity in the region and the UFA designation is needed in order for this to happen. Long Island MacArthur Airport has suffered big losses including a 46.4% loss of commercial departures from 2007-2012. Departing flights from the airport dropping nearly 6 percent from 2012 to 2013. Airport administrators have been working towards improving flights and services. In January of 2012, the airport resumed U.S. Airway shuttle service from Long Island to Washington, D.C. Schumer fought hard for this service. Additionally, efforts are being made to lengthen the taxiways. Schumer explained that the presence of CBP at the airport, in tandem with the new federal inspection station, would help attract new airlines and allow current carriers to begin providing international service.
A copy of Schumer’s letter is below:
Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske:
I write to urge you to work closely and collaboratively with Long Island MacArthur Airport and Suffolk County on their efforts to pursue a designation in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) User Fee Airport (UFA) Program, which would help the airport attract and maintain international flights. MacArthur Airport and community officials are committed to taking the necessary steps to clear the way for the airport to provide international flights and the first step is for them to design and construct a customs facility and gain approval as a User Fee Airport. Suffolk County, the Town of Islip, and New York State have collectively pledged the needed funding to move this project forward, however close coordination with your agency is required in order to ensure that the facility is constructed to all of CBP’s requirements and specifications. Therefore, I urge you to work closely with the Airport as they move through this process.
While I understand that CBP cannot officially approve MacArthur Airport as a User Fee Airport until the customs facility is at least 85% complete, that should not prevent CBP from engaging in an active and open dialogue with the community as they move toward that milestone. Close coordination and active input from CBP is critical to ensuring resources and time are not wasted in pursuit of this important project. In addition, active participation by CBP will also serve as a signal to potential carriers that your agency is serious about helping MacArthur Airport gain the UFA designation and as a result will help jumpstart efforts by MacArthur to bring new flights to the airport.
MacArthur Airport has suffered significant losses in recent years, with departing flights from the airport dropping nearly 6% from 2012 to 2013. I strongly believe that making MacArthur an international airport would increase activity at the airport and bolster economic activity in the region. The User Fee Airport designation is a critical step in allowing MacArthur to provide international flights; the presence of Customs and Border Protection at the airport, in tandem with the new federal inspection station, would help attract new airlines and allow current carriers to begin providing international service. I am confident that a UFA designation will help the MacArthur Airport grow, boosting the regional economy and providing Long Islanders with direct access to international travel locations, as well as providing a gateway to international visitors traveling to the world-class vacation destinations on Long Island.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator