Warwick, RI – When Transportes Aereos de Cabo Verde (TACV) makes the first international flight to Rhode Island June 2, passengers from Cabo Verde will be ushered through TF Green Airport’s new U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities.
Sen. Jack Reed toured those facilities Monday morning, getting a look at the work space U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will use to inspect passengers and baggage entering the United States.
They’ll have more work coming their way June 18, when Condor Airlines stars regularly-scheduled seasonal service from Providence to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA).
Joining him were Kelly Fredericks, President of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, and Helen Sterling, Area Port Director for Boston, supervising MA, CT, and RI.
Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has led efforts and worked with the delegation, state officials, and the Obama Administration to secure about $110 million in federal aviation funds to help upgrade the airport.
“It couldn’t have happened without the continuous support of our Congressional delegation,” Fredericks said.
Reed complimented the cooperation of Fredericks and Mayor Scott Avedisian, which he said was instrumental in making international flights to TF Green possible. International interest in travel to Rhode Island was also helpful.
“There’s enthusiasm on both sides of the Atlantic,” Reed said.
Reed and a retinue of officials and media walked through the federal inspection station doors in the terminal’s lower level near Starbuck’s to the rear of the station, where passengers will arrive shortly after passing a blue and white sign that reads, “Welcome to the United States.”
From there, the passengers will enter a series of inspection stations, including a baggage scanner and an agricultural inspector’s station. The station also has a separate baggage claim area, so there’s no intermingling of domestic and international flights.
Reed pointed out a wall of local photographs of RI landscapes, arranged just after the customs check point before the baggage claim area, “…they’re going to see how beautiful Rhode Island is,” the senator said.
In addition to the increased economic benefit the state is likely to receive from international tourism, Reed said, better access to national destinations will be a side benefit of investments made into the airport to accommodate international travellers.
When the airport’s runway is expanded in December of 2017, Reed said, “We also get the benefit of longer domestic travel,” meaning flights from TF Green to the west coast.
“We think that our best days are ahead of us,” Fredericks said.