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Tuesday,  June 18, 2024 8:06 PM 

U.S. preclearance facility at Billy Bishop enters next stage of development

U.S. preclearance facility at Billy Bishop enters next stage of development
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is getting a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) Preclearance facility. (File photo/PortsToronto)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Officials from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) on Wednesday (May 29) are set to announce new details about their plan to open a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) Preclearance facility.

The new space will usher in “a new era of connectivity and convenience from the heart of downtown Toronto,” said PortsToronto, which owns and operates the downtown island airport, in a press release Tuesday (May 28).

PortsToronto’s RJ Steenstra, president and CEO, and Sandra Pupatello, board chair, along with and Neil Pakey, president and CEO of Nieuport Aviation, will be site at YTZ tomorrow to share details.

According to the release, the updates will include unveiling the construction management company and baggage handling provider that that will oversee the delivery of the new facility, as well as details on the commencement of work.

Security & connectivity benefits

Word of a U.S. preclearance space at Billy Bishop surfaced in June of last year when the federal government announced a $30 million-dollar investment in the project.

At the time, officials said the new facility – which will provide Billy Bishop passengers with the opportunity to clear customs in Toronto, rather than having to clear customs upon landing at U.S. airports – will bring key security and connectivity benefits.

READ MORE: Feds to spend $30M on U.S. preclearance facility at Billy Bishop

The project, will take between 18-24 months to complete, will also reduce airport congestion and transportation bottlenecks, and improve the overall capacity in the transportation system, officials said.

Preclearance will also open up new markets to the U.S. as travellers will be able to access smaller U.S. airports that do not currently have U.S. CBP, and therefore cannot accept travellers that have not been precleared.

There are currently 15 U.S. CBP preclearance locations in six countries around the world – including Canada. Eight Canadian airports currently offer preclearance, with Billy Bishop becoming the ninth such facility.

Billy Bishop is the ninth busiest airport in Canada and the fifth busiest serving U.S. markets. The downtown airport on the Toronto Islands welcomes roughly 450,000 U.S. passengers per year.

PortsToronto says the benefits of preclearance have been demonstrated at 15 airports around the world, and recent research by York Aviation indicates that Billy Bishop has the potential to deliver $5.3 billion in economic output through the increased aviation activity that preclearance will bring about.

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