More Customs and Border Protection officers coming to Austin’s airport

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will soon get more help processing foreign passengers and inspecting cargo.

Four additional Customs and Border Protection officers will be stationed at AUS by this fall. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) made the announcement on Monday.

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Currently, Rep. Doggett said AUS has 15 officers, which he said isn’t enough to handle the increase in arrivals. For comparison, Doggett pointed out San Antonio International Airport utilizes 24 officers.

“For years, a shortage of CBP officers has been an obstacle to securing new international flights and a source of major inconvenience to incoming international passengers and local businesses awaiting incoming cargo. CBP officers not only process incoming passengers from foreign destinations at the airport but also have responsibility for inspecting cargo and supervising five remote Foreign-Trade Zones that are vital to our local economy.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin)

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP officers do the following:

  • inspect merchandise, agriculture, luggage and people coming into and out of the U.S.

  • intercept drugs, weapons and other illegal goods

  • work with dogs to detect weapons and drugs

  • fly drones

“There have been some big delays as these international flights come in and people have to clear customs in Austin. So it’s an inconvenience to not have an adequate number of people.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin)

Doggett expects an additional four officers to come sometime next year if they can be recruited from outside the region.

“That’s a little more challenging. They can reallocate and move around people within this region,” Doggett said. “Now we need to reach out and see if we can get some people from out of state to come here and add to our workforce.”

Increase in travel

Air traffic continues to grow at AUS. In 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration designated AUS as a large-hub category airport. According to a release from Doggett’s office, that’s presented challenges in managing more international arrivals efficiently and securely.

“With only fifteen officers stationed in AUS, passenger and air cargo are experiencing significant, ongoing daily delays. This greatly inconveniences travelers and impedes the efficient movement of goods, negatively impacting the economy,” the release said.

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In a statement to KXAN, the airport said improving the experience for travelers coming on international flights is a top focus.

“We are grateful for Congressman Doggett’s leadership and advocacy. Improving the experience for travelers arriving on international flights is one of our top focuses right now and we’re thrilled to have the support from our partners at Customs and Border Protection in adding more Officers to ensure timely processing for arriving passengers.”

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

The airport said its international arrivals improvement project is almost done with the design process. The project will add 6,000 square feet of space to help passenger line up, as well as add two new baggage carousels.

AUS expects to break ground later this year and estimates construction to finish in 2025.

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