U.S. Airports May Face Shortage of Customs Officers

Hundreds of officers being relocated to the nation’s southern border; PIT unaffected for now

By Natalie Fiorilli

Published May 24, 2019

Read Time: 2 mins


The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is warning that sending officers to the southern border could have an impact on the nation’s 328 legal ports of entry, including airports.

According to the agency, 731 officers from across the country have been reassigned to the southwestern border with Mexico to help with the surge of migrants seeking entry there.

“While the current Southwest border security and humanitarian crisis is impacting CBP operations, we are working to mitigate the effects as much as possible,” the agency said in a statement.

In the past several weeks, 37 agents were transferred to the border from upstate New York, including 17 Buffalo-based officers. Customs agents in Buffalo operate ports of entry on the Canadian border and at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Officials at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, the world’s busiest airport, said the shortage of customs agents was causing longer lines and wait times for international travelers.

Pittsburgh International has fewer than 20 agents stationed at the airport and has not experienced longer wait times in its international arrivals area, said April Gasparri, PIT’s senior vice president of Public Safety, Operations, and Maintenance.

“As international travel expands during the summer season, we will continue to monitor the situation. Our close partnership with the CBP allows us to keep an open line of communication to support them and plan ahead for any potential impacts,” she added.

International travel at PIT spikes in the summer. British Airways operates year-round service to London Heathrow, and flights to Frankfurt, Germany on Condor Airlines resume May 31. Additionally, the airport services flights to multiple Caribbean destinations on Southwest, Delta, Vacation Express, and Apple Vacations.

CBP officials said they are working to mitigate the effects as much as possible but are advising travelers to plan accordingly and check the agency’s wait times on its website.

For more on Pittsburgh’s response to the national U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer shortage issue, READ: Customs and Border Protection Faces Officer Shortage.

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