A $5.5 million Customs Facility is being considered by the city for
Austin Bergstrom Airport to handle the extra traffic that is expected to
be generated by Formula One racing, Statesman.com
reports. The concern is that the current customs and immigration
facility at ABIA isn’t big enough to process Formula One charter
The city would pay for the facility rather than trying to
get the organizers of Formula One to pay for it. Officials have the
perspective that if incoming international travelers are not processed
quickly and efficiently, it will tarnish the city’s image. The city
also plans for the new customs building to handle large European
commercial flights that the city is hoping it can attract.
city plans to expand its permanent customs and immigration facility, but
hopes this temporary facility would be used for about three to five
years. The hope is that it will help with other large events such as
South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The
future benefit to Austin is the reason that Circuit of the Americas, the
race organizer, does not believe they should have to contribute to the
cost of the facility.
There is no way to predict how many charters
ABIA will see due to the race, because charter carriers do not have to
let an airport know they are coming until 30 days before they arrive.
Based on the experience of other cities, officials expect Austin to get
several chartered jumbo jets carrying 350 or more people from around the
world in the days before the race.
The alternative to building a
temporary facility is to route flights to Dallas or Houston and then
require race attendees to get a flight to Austin or to drive or take a
bus to get to their final destination. The worry is that this would not
boost Austin’s image as an international travel destination. The other
worry is that even if it is approved, there is not time to get the
facility finished before the race, which is expected to happen in