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NoCo airport delays decision on U.S. Customs facility

LOVELAND — A proposal to establish a U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport has yet to receive approval from the airport commission. Airport staff, at a meeting last week, were asked to continue to explore how to pay for the service.

The commission has in front of it a proposal from Discovery Air Charter Inc., an airport fixed based operation and hangar operating from new facilities at the south end of the airport. The airport commission had considered, and rejected, a proposal to establish customs services through traditional means but found it to be too expensive. Discovery proposed establishing customs services using the U.S. Customs Reimbursable Services Program. 

Discovery offered to create the space and provide administrative support services to the program if it could retain revenues from the program for five years. It asked the airport to help pay for the salary of the customs agent for those five years — a figure that would be just under $200,000 a year. In three to five years, Discovery projected that revenues would exceed expenses and the office could operate on its own.

The $200,000 a year number represents about 12.4% of the airport’s $1.57 million operating budget, meaning that other sources of funding would be needed.

“The airport commission directed staff from the cities to continue to research available financial resources both within the cities and externally to apply toward the requested amount,” airport manager Jason Licon told BizWest.

Among the considerations could be direct support from Loveland and Fort Collins, lease fee reductions for Discovery Air, or some other funding source.

Proponents of establishing U.S. Customs services at the airport say that having an office available would “attract more large corporate entities with aviation departments similar to Nutrien and Woodward,” according to information provided to the commission. It would be attractive to large companies because now those companies arriving from another country have to stop first in places like Casper, Wyoming, to complete Customs requirements. 

Increased air traffic from large companies would also increase fuel sales at the airport and provide access to Customs services by companies and individuals needing immigration or other services.

Source: BizWest