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Honolulu Airport to Receive New CBP Staffing to Decrease Airport Wait Times, Improve Visitor Experience

Schatz Worked with Hawai‘i DOT and DHS On Request For Additional Airport Staffing

WASHINGTON – The Honolulu International Airport was selected to participate in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that will add additional screening capability to the facility, help decrease airport wait times, and improve the travel experience for visitors and residents.  U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked with the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to secure the additional staffing. 

“Additional screening capability at Honolulu Airport means faster processing, less wait times for visitors, a better travel experience, and a boost to our state’s economy,” said Senator Schatz.  “Part of what makes Hawai‘i a premier visitor destination is our unmatched hospitality, and this good news will make sure we continue to provide that from the moment visitors arrive.”

The CBP’s reimbursable services agreement with the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) will provide up to 1,320 additional staff hours from CBP.  This additional staffing will be focused on hours of peak arrival of international flights to provide additional services.

The additional staff comes as wait times at airports has risen across the country.  At Honolulu International Airport, in 2015 average wait times for international passengers going through customs exceeded 20 minutes, and maximum wait times exceeded 80 minutes.  But at participating airports across the country, the additional staffing from the program and supplementary lane openings have helped decrease wait times by an average of almost 30 percent. 

Working with the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2015, Senator Schatz worked with colleagues to double the size of CBP’s reimbursable agreement program from 5 air ports of entry to 10.  Under this expanded authority, HDOT has now successfully applied for selection into this program which is an agreement between HDOT and CBP to provide additional services on a reimbursable basis.

The additional resources will be particularly useful following an expected rise in international visitors with the U.S. DOT’s recent approval of new flights from Haneda International Airport to Hawaii.