Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to bring their Pre-Check program for international travelers to the Buffalo Niagara and Niagara Falls International Airports. The program would increase efficiency in the flow of trusted travelers and promote cross-border commerce. In the past 10 years alone, Canadian passengers at the Buffalo airport have risen from 10 to nearly 40 percent of the airport’s passengers, totaling nearly 2 million in 2011.
“From Niagara Falls to local vineyards, the Darwin Martin House to the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo-Niagara region is a prime location for tourists,” Senator Gillibrand said. “More than 7 million Canadians live within two hours of airports in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The TSA Pre-Check program would increase the efficiency at our local airports, while continuing to focus on our national security.”
“The significance and value of having a Pre-Check screening system in place at both airports cannot be overstated,” said Howard A. Zemsky, Chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority; the entity that operates both the Buffalo and Niagara Falls International Airports. “It is vitally important to the economic vitality of both facilities that we begin to offer the many thousands of our customers who already participate in a border-crossing “trusted traveler” program, the benefits of having this secure and efficient system at our two airports as soon as possible.”
The Buffalo-Niagara region has seen an increase in popularity as an international tourist destination and looks to continue their current trajectory to attract even more visitors in the coming years. The region recently launched an awareness campaign in an effort to increase enrollment in trusted traveler programs, such as Nexus and Global Entry, which work closely with Pre-Check to increase airport operations and security, while streamlining the airport experience for international travelers. Currently, approximately 70 percent of passengers at the Niagara Falls airport are from Canada, and many of these travelers are already enrolled in these trusted traveler programs.
Senator Gillibrand’s complete letter to TSA Administrator John Pistole:
Dear Administrator Pistole,
I am writing to you today to bring your attention to the need for the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check program at the Niagara Falls and Buffalo Niagara International Airports in Western New York. The availability of Pre-Check’s pre-screening process at Western New York’s airports would provide benefits to a spectrum of stakeholders, from the individual traveler, to the tourism industry and to airport security. As a travel hub for Canadian and international passengers, the more efficient flow of trusted travelers is essential to promoting cross-border commerce, while allowing for TSA to sharpen their focus on imminent threats.
Recently, the Buffalo Niagara region has launched a campaign to increase enrollment in trusted traveler programs like Nexus and Global Entry, which would work hand-in-hand with Pre-Check, easing airport congestion and increasing efficiency of airport operations. In the Niagara region alone, there are more than 81,000 users of the Nexus program – all potentially eligible for pre-screening through the Pre-Check program. According to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, roughly 70% of passengers at the Niagara Falls airport are from Canada, many of which are already enrolled in trusted traveler programs. At the Buffalo airport, the share of Canadian passengers has grown from less than 10% ten years ago to over 40% today, with an estimated $400-$500 million in associated economic activity. Just last year, the Buffalo airport accommodated over 1.9 million Canadian passengers.
Furthermore, the Buffalo-Niagara region was recently ranked 20th in the nation as an international tourism destination by the US Department of Commerce. The rankings, based on an annual survey by the Department’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, counted visitors from outside the United States, Canada and Mexico. Buffalo-Niagara was number 20 on the list, attracting an estimated 335,000 overseas tourists, according to the survey. To continue this trajectory, we must employ every method possible to create a seamless travel experience for trusted passengers.
I urge you to seriously consider Niagara Falls International Airport and Buffalo-Niagara International Airport as priority sites for TSA’s Pre-Check initiative. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my Buffalo office at 716-854-9725 should you require any assistance or to further discuss my request.
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator