The Monroe County airports director has sent Customs and Border Protection a letter spelling a series of limitations the airport would be willing to put in place if the federal agency allowed the Key West airport to handle more international travelers.
The county wants to be able to increase the number of international passengers from 10 per flight to 20, Airports Director Don DeGraw said. Because of the limited size of the current customs facility at Key West International Airport and number of agents, the facility can only handle 10 passengers.
The county has embarked on a roughly $7 million plan to expand the size of the facility and bring in more agents, which would allow the facility to handle as many as 70 passengers per flight. However, the project will not be complete until at least January 2017, DeGraw said.
DeGraw recently sent a letter to local Customs and Border Protection Port Director Stephen Bausmith asking to double the current international passenger load, with restrictions, until the facility is complete.
The restrictions would include limiting flights to between 2 and 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, DeGraw wrote in his letter. The flights would be prohibited from carrying cargo and there would no flights on Sundays, DeGraw wrote.
“The airport is committed to providing the highest level of security and service to the nation’s air travelers and to partnering closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the achievement of that goal.”
Bausmith declined to comment about the request.
The request comes after Silver Airways announced last month it has filed an application with federal transportation officials to conduct flights between Key West and three other Florida cities and Cuba.
Silver Airways wants to operate five direct flights a week between Key West and Havana with its 34-passenger plane.
Airport manager Don Degraw has begun to lobby Customs and Border Protection to increase the number of passengers to at least 34 until the airport can complete a several-years long project to upgrade the customs facility to accommodate roughly 70 passengers.
Currently, only Havana Air serves Havana out of Key West, with three flights a week out of Key West with its nine-passenger turbo-prop plane.
Original article can be found here: http://keysnews.com