Airport Goes Global
“We [had] a temporary facility built for U.S. Customs by mid-June  and then, in about another year, we will have the permanent facility in the terminal building,” said Robert F. Selig, executive director for the Capital Region Airport Authority. “We will have two U.S. customs agents assigned to this airport. They will [initially] provide customs clearance for corporate aircraft.”
So local companies with private planes will no longer have to stop in Detroit, Chicago or other ports of entry before returning home.
“They can go right through Lansing,” said Selig. “That will be a big benefit to the State of Michigan, since the governor files into Canada regularly, and for Jackson National Life, Dart Container, and Michigan Veneer, just to name some of the big guys. They’re already home. They don’t have to fire up their planes again and take off to fly somewhere else [after going through customs].”
The authority also intends to establish a foreign trade zone in Lansing, which would allow not only private corporate planes but also air cargo planes to fly here directly, saving those companies time and money.
“We currently have air cargo flights coming in from Canada and Mexico, but they have to stop and get cleared somewhere else first,” Selig explained.
When the permanent facility is finished in 2009, the airport will also have the capability to process international passenger flights.
“Airlines like Allegiant could fly into Mexico, if they wanted,” said Selig. “We will [be able] to clear international passenger flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, and even potentially to European destinations. Those would be charter flights, similar to what Allegiant flies. It would not be regularly scheduled services, like you see at larger airports, but there would be special charter flights, which we see a large demand for.”
However, as opposed to the larger airports, what fliers also won’t see in Lansing is mile-long lines to get through security when they leave, or through customs when they get home.
“As airports get bigger, they get more inconvenient,” said Selig. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure the Capital Region International Airport is as convenient as possible.”
But that doesn’t mean that the authority isn’t looking toward future expansion.
“We will have the capability to add on to the terminal building if we need to someday,” Selig noted.
Even so, the Capital Region International Airport will still be relatively easy to get through; and now, thanks to the new customs service, the only place international flights will need to land is home.
| ||Christine Caswell|