(April 17, 2001) LB City Hall staff has quietly obtained on-call U.S. Customs service for LB's City Hall-run Airport, M-F 9a-5p with just a four hour notice.
This means international general aviation (i.e. private, non-major) flights can now come directly to LB Airport without having to make U.S. Customs stops at other airports (like LAX) first.
A press release from the City Manager's office quotes 5th district Councilmember Jackie Kell as saying the U.S. Customs availability is the "result of a lengthy collaborative efforts between LGB [Long Beach Airport] staff and interested Airport tenants."
Although City Hall publicly conveyed the news by written release dated April 16 (disseminated April 17) LBReport.com was told by LB Airport staff that the U.S. Customs on-call availability has actually been in effect for roughly several weeks.
In the release, LB Airport Manager Chris Kunze notes that "[f]or service to be established, it was necessary to demonstrate to U.S. Customs that sufficient need for their service existed and that proper facilities could be made available for their use."
LBReport.com requested, and Mr. Kunze's office promptly provided, a copy of correspondence between the LB Airport Bureau (dated Feb. 23) and the U.S. Customs Service (dated February 28), which we post on links below.
The LB Airport letter, dated February 23, 2001, recites the results of a meeting to discuss faclities and procedures for the on-call Customs inspection service. In pertinent part, the letters indicate:
The City of LB Airport Bureau will provide an office facility in the north end of the terminal building, with combination lock, telephone and FAX machine, and data port if desired, and U.S. Customs vehicle parking space, adjacent to the office and near the arrival aircraft parking position;
The U.S. Customs service advised that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) "requires that all garbage on international aircraft be treated by either sterilization or incineration. This requirement may be met by having an approved facility on site or by utilizing a company approved by USDA to perform this service."
The Airport Bureau will be the coordinator and "clearinghouse" for all users clearance requests and flight status tracking;
U.S. Customs will coordinate with Agriculture, INS, and any other necessary FIS service providers;
LBReport.com posts the LB Airport Bureau's letter in full at: LB Airport Letter and the U.S. Customs Service letter in full at: U.S. Customs Letter.
The Customs Service's letter indicates the Federal Inspection Service agencies "will evaluate the workload, budget, staffing, and other related data" during a test period beginning March 19, 2001. They reserve the right to discontinue the test "at any time if they deem it necessary to do so."
City Hall's release says in part, "[A]s more and more ultra long-range business gets such as the Gulfstream G-V and Bombardier's Global Express enter service, U.S. Customs availability becomes increasingly important for LGB [LB Airport] businesses to remain competitive. Van Nuys and Burbank have had U.S. Customs available for almost two years."
The release also quotes AirFlite's General Manager, Tommy Walker, as saying that the new service will "continue to expand the awareness of Long Beach in the international aviation community."
City staff's position is that the LB Airport move raises no policy issues and is within current noise compatibility rules and the City Council-adopted "Strategic Plan."