New Boca Raton customs facility aims to boost business at airport
Sun Sentinel, September 21, 2017: A $4.5 million Customs and Border Protection building is being built so that flights bound for Boca no longer have to make stops for customs inspections elsewhere.
Flights from other countries will get to go directly to Boca Raton by the end of the year if a new airport project stays on schedule.
A $4.5 million Customs and Border Protection building is being built so that flights bound for Boca no longer have to make stops for customs inspections elsewhere. Boca Raton Airport officials expect construction to wrap up by the end of October, with a grand opening potentially a month later.
“There are a lot of international flights that leave Boca Raton and they cannot return directly,” said the airport’s executive director Clara Bennett. “There’s a lot of inefficiencies because we don’t have the service here.” A consultant for the airport said the Boca facility each year will inspect about 700 international flights. They no longer would have to stop at nearby airports, such as the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, to get clearance. The planes that use Boca’s airport are usually charters, corporate or private. The airport doesn’t allow commercial flights.
Privaira, a plane charter company, was looking for a new home and decided being near the new site would help business. So the company moved to Boca in April 2016 after outgrowing its space in Fort Lauderdale. Privaira takes people to the Bahamas several times a week, as well as to Cuba and South America.
Clemens Vanderwerf, Privaira’s president and CEO, said the company heard about the project and set up shop at the Boca airport, next door to the upcoming facility. Vanderwerf can see the facility from his window, he said. “It’s a good move and will definitely spark more business,” Vanderwerf said. “We’re very enthusiastic about the opening.”
Jessica Del Vecchio, the city’s economic development manager, hopes the 4,700 square-foot customs facility will spur more business for the city, too. If international travelers don’t have to make a detour before arriving in Boca, there’s a greater chance they’ll spend more time in the city, she said. Del Vecchio also frequently works with corporate executives and said many use the airport for business trips. “It really increases our exposure to that international market,” Del Vecchio said.
Without an extra airport stop, fewer planes in the sky could also mean better safety for Fort Lauderdale Executive and Boca’s airport, Bennett said.
The state-owned airport began construction on the facility in July 2016 with the intent of opening last month. But construction delays, including turnover in staff of contractor West Construction, pushed the project back, Bennett said.
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