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Airport Security

The Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport is going to need a new sign next year that changes 'Regional' to 'International'.  That is becomes a new federal customs facility is part of the Airport Expansion and Rehabilitation project.  Airport Manager Mike Hall says the new capability will enhance local firms that already do world-wide business, and that he is negotiating to bring Ithaca's first commercial international flights to Tompkins County.

"I think it's important to understand the business aircraft community, there are a lot of companies that use general aviation to fill in the granularity of air service," Hall said Wednesday. "For example, commercial air service from the airport will always be to a hub.  If you don't happen to be going to a hub, but you've got a facility like Borg Warner does in smaller communities in Canada, and what have you, they choose to fly their airplane, which is a Cessna Citation, internationally to support that business."

Hall says that in addition to benefits to general aviation two more benefits could result from having a customs facility here.

"The second aspect is we could receive commercial air service per-cleared from overseas.  There are plenty of places that pre-clear, but from a practical point of view, for us that means Toronto and Montreal.  We are in discussions with Air Canada.  This is something we couldn't do previously, but we can do now," Hall said. "The last thing is we're investigating the possibilities of a foreign trade zone built around this capability.  That's very important to Borg Warner, for example, which is an international corporation.  So there's sort of a triple hit there."

Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) are the United States equivalent of Free trade Zones. They are supervised by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  FTZs allow merchandise to be stored, exhibited, assembled, manufactured, and processed without being subject to payments of duties or excise tax until it officially enters the country for domestic consumption.

Hall added that having customs at the Ithaca Tompkins Airport will also boost tourism.

"There are always the smaller airplanes from our friends north of the border that will fly here to visit the beautiful Finger Lakes, which is much easier than the eight hour drive it takes to get around the lake," he said.

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