Mimi and Andre Lenesse were on a weekend trip to Florida on Friday to celebrate Mimi’s birthday. They couldn’t have chosen a better time to leave their home in Victoriaville, Quebec.
“My birthday’s Sunday, and it’s supposed to be -48 degrees (Celsius),” Mimi said. “And in Florida, it’s supposed to be 28 degrees!”
If a U.S. Senate bill becomes law, the Lenesses might be able to save money on future getaways.
“We like to come here for flying,” Mimi said. “Plattsburgh, it’s a good place. It’s the second time we came here — second time. We like it; we like the people. Better than Montreal.”
More than 10,000 people board flights at Plattsburgh International Airport each year. An international border is less than 30 miles away from the facility. The airport is also not recognized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as an official U.S. port of entry.
This combination of factors is almost entirely unique among American airports. Because of it, Plattsburgh International is forced to pay CBP out of pocket for security screenings, cargo examinations and immigration inspections, among other services. The only other U.S. airport that has to do this is in Harlingen, Texas. The situation has just led Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to introduce a bill to designate both airports as ports of entry.
“We appreciate the efforts of Senator Cruz, Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Stefanik in bringing this forward and advocating on our behalf,” Plattsburgh International Airport director Chris Kreig said Friday. “It’s a non-partisan issue. It’s good for the community and it’s good for the airport.”
North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik introduced a similar House bill in October. Kreig estimates that the airport would save about $600,000 annually if it were to become a port of entry. The shift would also make it easier for Plattsburgh International to bring in a service it’s wanted to add for years.
“We do have commercial customs facilities at the airport, and we’re actively pursuing international commercial travel,” Kreig said. “We’ve been having conversations with carriers.”
Plattsburgh International would save the majority of the cash at the general aviation terminal, where private passenger flights take off and land. Kreig wasn’t sure how much money commercial passengers might get to save.