Expect costlier custom charges

 - March 19, 2008, 12:32 PM

Starting last month, operators clearing customs at so-called “user fee” airports began to see as much as a 10-percent increase in clearance charges. The increases are based on an increase in the flat fees charged to the airports by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. There are approximately 40 user-fee airports, so called because they don’t qualify as international or landing-rights facilities due to insufficient traffic volume. Such airports provide customs service on a pay-per-use basis. While the airport’s authority agrees to pay the Customs Bureau customs a flat annual fee, the cost is normally passed through to the aircraft operators receiving customs clearances. Effective last month, the airports’ flat fees increased about 8.5 percent to $140,874 for the initial fee and $123,438 for the recurring annual fee. However, these rates are adjustable, based on local costs and other circumstances, so that the actual fee increase for operators will vary from airport to airport.