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Will Rogers World Airport hopeful new customs facility leads to nonstop international flights

Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City is preparing for international flights by adding a customs facility.

The airport began accepting construction bids for the new Federal Inspection Station last week.

Once the international customs facility is complete, the airport hopes to offer nonstop commercial flights from Oklahoma City to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

“Non-stop International flights to leisure destinations will give our customers a better travel experience,” said OKC Director of Airports Jeff Mulder in a statement. “We also have a growing population of residents from Mexico and Central America who live in Central Oklahoma that will benefit from these flights.”

Oklahoma City is already home to a Guatemalan Consulate and a Mexican Consulate, the latter of which opened its doors almost one year ago.

Airport officials say construction on the customs facility should be complete by the end of this year and cost around $12 million, with funds coming from airport revenues. The airport previously built a gate and boarding bridge for international flights during a 2021 terminal expansion.

Tulsa International Airport is working on a similar project, with construction starting on a new customs facility this month.

The airport already sees more than 100 passengers headed to Mexico every day and wants to offer them nonstop options. Airport officials say they’re also targeting direct flights for Tulsa’s other top destinations, which include Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom.

“This facility will not only be impactful for Tulsans wanting to travel to other countries but also for increasing Tulsa’s global connections and opportunities for economic partnerships with those outside of the country,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.

TIA’s project is projected to cost around $41 million, with funding from Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust and FAA grants. Construction is projected to be complete in late 2025.

Both airports have experienced consistent growth in traveler numbers since 2020. Nearly 4.5 million passengers passed through Will Rogers in 2023, nearly tying its record from 2019. Tulsa saw more than 3 million travelers last year — its most since 2008.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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