CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The US Customs & Border Protection Facility at West Virginia International Yeager Airport is just days away from being opened for use.
At a recent board meeting, airport director and CEO Nick Keller told the board a substantial completion date for construction on the facility is set for Tuesday and a grand opening date is set for March 18.
It’s a process that has been years in the making and Keller said the opening of this facility will advance the airport and the state.
“I think it’ll be a huge step to eliminate competitive disadvantages for West Virginia. Prior to Customs being open, West Virginia was one of only five states in the country without an international airport,” Keller told MetroNews.
Keller said the building, which will be next to the Capital Jet Center on the airport campus, will be able to handle aircraft up to 20 passengers from international flights. He said it will come with start-of-the-art screen equipment, a processing center for passports and documents, holding cells, and an agricultural inspection station.
Keller said the airport, which debuted its new name that includes’ international’ at the beginning of the year, has launched a marketing campaign geared towards attracting people overflying West Virginia from outside the country. He gave an example of smaller flights flying from London to out west that may need to stop for fuel and clear customs.
“Price of fuel is lower compared to major airports, the time is quicker,” Keller said of the advantages to stop in Charleston. “We are convenient, cheaper and we’re going to attract revenue on international arrivals from people who would never be coming here.”
Keller also noted he expects international travel to pick up in the second half of 2022 as the COVID-19 numbers continue to decline.
The March 18 grand opening celebration of the facility is expected to have Gov. Jim Justice, congressional members from West Virginia, Kanawha County commissioners, and Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin in attendance.
In July 2019, Justice announced a $2 million grant to get the Customs project underway. Customs has been working without its own facility at Yeager since 2016.