OCBC members met with the Office of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez yesterday to discuss John Wayne Airport‘s (JWA) designation as a Port of Entry. The airport applied to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the designation last November and the process for approval has been slow moving. The congresswoman reiterated her support for the designation as a key issue as it would be a major economic boost for the airport and the county’s economy. In order to get the process moving faster, Congresswoman Sanchez included an amendment to the CBP Authorization Act, H.R. 3846, requiring applications for airports with over 100,000 international travelers to be priority–JWA serves 150,000 international passengers annually. The amendment was accepted and the bill is currently in the Senate awaiting passage. OCBC is a leader supporting this issue and encourages senators Boxer and Feinstein to make quick passage of this bill a priority during the current session, otherwise the process restart in 2016.

Changing JWA’s status from “User Fee” to “Port of Entry” would transfer all costs related to CBP services to the federal government instead of the airlines–equating to nearly $1.9 million. JWA is currently at a competitive disadvantage as all other surrounding international airports are Ports of Entry. JWA meets or exceeds all the requirements for the designation, and has consistently higher passenger levels than its peers. International air service generates substantial benefits to the Orange County economy, including nearly 1,000 full-time jobs, more than $130 million in total economic output, and $73 million in Gross Domestic Product. Annually, air service to Mexico brings 7,000 visitors to Orange County, who spend approximately $50 million while visiting. For more information, contact Alicia Berhow, Vice President, Workforce Development and Advocacy.
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