Billy Bishop Airport one step closer to U.S. customs preclearance
The ability to clear U.S. Customs at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is one step closer to becoming reality with President Obama having signed into law a bill ratifying the new preclearance agreement between Canada and the United States. The signing of the new law was commemorated earlier today by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, at Burlington International Airport as the first Porter Airlines flight of the season arrived. The law is part of an effort to make travel between the two countries more convenient for travellers while also further enhancing bilateral trade relations and reinforcing national security.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport was among the Canadian transportation facilities named in an expanded U.S. Customs Preclearance program in March 2016. The announcement, which also included Quebec City’s Jean Lesage Airport, came as part of Prime Minister Trudeau’s first official visit to the U.S. to attend meetings with President Obama.
“PortsToronto and partners at the airport have been working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and teams at Transport Canada, Public Safety and International Trade to establish U.S. Preclearance at the airport and we are very pleased that the bill has been signed into law,” said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO PortsToronto, the owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. “U.S. Preclearance will provide easier access to the U.S. for our passengers and, as such, is important as a means of further enhancing the customer service experience at our airport. We look forward to engaging with Canadian officials to continue discussions related to implementing a U.S. Customs Preclearance facility at Billy Bishop Airport and realizing the opportunities that exist in the areas of efficiency, customer service, trade relations and security.”
As the sixth busiest Canadian airport servicing the U.S., Billy Bishop Airport is a critical gateway that will benefit from U.S. Preclearance. Currently, more than 400,000 passengers travel to the U.S. each year from Billy Bishop Airport. U.S. Preclearance also presents the ability to service U.S. markets more broadly and creates opportunity to add new markets within the existing slot structure and allocation at Billy Bishop Airport.
With the new preclearance agreement between Canada and the U.S. now ratified by the U.S., next steps include ratification of the agreement by Canada and working out the specific costs and operating environment at Billy Bishop Airport. It is anticipated once a Terms of Operations Agreement is entered into between U.S. CBP and PortsToronto, it will take about one year to open the U.S. Preclearance Facility. The construction plans to upgrade the passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Airport announced in October do include a preclearance facility.