WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a report in the Columbus Dispatch, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to review its policy for inspecting international flights and apply a uniform policy to Port Columbus and all similarly-situated airports. The move is aimed at promoting the economic competitiveness of Central Ohio.
“Port Columbus is critical to the economic competitiveness of our state, and its international business arrivals should be treated the same as those at other similarly-situated airports,” Brown said. “We need to ensure that Central Ohio remains a great place to do business and that means ensuring safe, efficient, and affordable travel options.”
According to the Columbus Dispatch, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ended planeside inspections at Port Columbus and instead mandates that flights are cleared through the customs office in the commercial terminal, creating delays that have caused some flights to land first in other airports in order to avoid Port Columbus. In a letter to the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Brown asked the agency to apply a uniform policy for international business flights arriving in Port Columbus and other similarly-sized airports.
The Columbus region is home to world-class universities and research institutions and 15 Fortune 1000 headquarters, according to the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. A 2005 independent study cited by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, says the economic impact of the three airports in Central Ohio includes nearly 30,000 jobs, $793 million in payroll, and $2.7 billion in annual economic activity.
Full text of the letter is below.
August 16, 2011
Mr. Alan Bersin
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20229
Dear Mr. Bersin:
With the upcoming tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection should be commended for its efforts to keep our airways safe and secure.
According to a recent report in The Columbus Dispatch, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has changed its procedures for inspecting international flights arriving at the Port of Columbus. The article notes that planeside inspection of international flights was cancelled due to security concerns.
I share your commitment to ensuring the security of our airports. But I believe that if new security measures are enacted, they should apply to all similarly-situated airports. According to the Dispatch report, the decision to cancel planeside inspection of flights arriving at the Port of Columbus differs from the policies in place at other similarly-situated airports. As a result, some international flights bound for Columbus now land first at other U.S. airports to avoid the delays in Columbus. I am concerned that if flights bound for Columbus are needlessly re-routed, the result will be increased costs, delays, and a competitive disadvantage that could undermine Columbus’ attractiveness as a place to do business.
It is critical that we ensure the safety of our airports while also investing in the economic competitiveness of Central Ohio. The Columbus region is home to world class universities and research institutions and 15 Fortune 1000 headquarters, according to the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. According to a 2005 independent study cited by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, the economic impact of the three airports in Central Ohio includes nearly 30,000 jobs, $793 million in payroll, and $2.7 billion in annual economic activity.
I ask that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection review its policy regarding planeside inspections at the Port of Columbus. No one wants special accommodations for the Port of Columbus. Rather, international business flights arriving in Columbus should be treated in a manner consistent with other similarly-sized airports. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.