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CBP rate increase hits GA airports

Aviation groups ask CBP to suspend rate hike

Editor's note: This article was updated June 5 with information U.S. Customs and Border Protection shared with AOPA regarding the number of airports that will continue to offer service as normal and those airports temporarily suspending customs service.

AOPA and three other aviation groups asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection to suspend the implementation deadline of a dramatic rate hike for CBP services at user-fee-funded airports.

CBP announced the rate increase with little notice before the May 17 implementation deadline. CBP changed its charges for customs services “from a flat rate to full recovery billing” at about 60 user-fee-funded airports because “payroll costs have outstripped revenue,” Politico reported in its Morning Transportation newsletter.

CBP told AOPA during a call that it deemed the increases necessary to comply with the Antideficiency Act that prohibits any expenditure of funds from “any appropriation or fund in excess of the amount available in the appropriation or fund unless authorized by law.”

The increase ranges from 29 percent to 54 percent at the airports, the aviation groups said, adding that the airports had little time to either accept the rate increase or reduce or terminate CBP service at their airports for the next quarter. The groups explained that the airports are often governed by an airport board or city council that must approve fee changes before they can be implemented, and that the tight time frame could make that impossible. In addition, airports are already hard hit because of reduced traffic, including international travel, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“CBP should also take into consideration the significant consequences to airports of losing their ability to serve international traffic, a significant lifeline for many local economies,” the groups said in a letter to CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan.

Some airports have opted to temporarily reduce or terminate CBP services July to September, and AOPA requested a list of those airports. CBP responded to AOPA in June, stating that of the 63 airports affected, 49 are continuing with services as normal at the increased rate, 10 are suspending services for the quarter only, and four have not notified CBP of their plan to move forward. Citing federal law, CBP said it cannot disclose the individual airport’s decision. Because a list of airports that opted to suspended or reduce services between July and September is unavailable, operators should call ahead to verify that customs will be available at their destination airport during their planned time of arrival.

Alyssa J. Miller
Alyssa J. Cobb
The former senior director of digital media, Alyssa J. Cobb was on the AOPA staff from 2004 until 2023. She is a flight instructor, and loves flying her Cessna 170B with her husband and two children. Alyssa also hosts the weekly Fly with AOPA show on the AOPA Pilot Video YouTube channel.
Topics: Advocacy, User Fees, International Travel

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