Austin airport unveils new customs facility

A new international customs facility at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was revealed Dec. 15 and is anticipated to be used by passengers within the next week.

The facility will double the airport's ability to handle international passengers from 200 to 400 passengers per hour. The area's new intuitive design helps accommodate the extra traffic, said architect Larry Speck, who was hired to design for the project.

"Now as you come off the plane there you see perfectly everything you have to go through," Speck said. "In many airports you don't intuitively know how to go. It's all very confusing."

The previous facility was very modest, Speck said, and the new customs area will streamline the process in such a different way than what is experienced at nearly any other U.S airport. For example, instead of individuals making their way through customs only to go back again with their bags, passengers will only go through customs once after picking up their bags.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, who leads the House Homeland Security Committee, helped unveil the new customs facility to members of the media.

Leffingwell said the airport's steady growth since opening in 1999 reflects how the city's economy and population have grown. He said he expects more direct international flights to arrive at Austin's airport as the city grows, and this new facility will help accommodate that anticipated increase in demand.

On Dec. 17 another airport-related announcement is expected from Southwest Airlines and The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. The yet-to-be announced news from Dec. 17 will serve as a "benefit to Austin's business community," according to a chamber news release.

By Jennifer Curington
Jennifer covers Austin City Council, its various committees and local business news. After covering Florida's 2013 legislative session she graduated from Georgia Southern University and joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2014.


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