Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport may become a major transit point for U.S. air cargo headed for Mexico once Brownsville International Air Cargo Inc.’s planned customs facility is up and running.
That’s according to Ricardo Farias Nicolopulos, the company’s president and CEO, who said it will allow southbound air cargo to be cleared by Mexican customs in Brownsville, greatly facilitating trade between the two countries. The Brownsville operation would follow a dual-customs pilot project BIAC plans to develop this year at Lambert-St.LouisInternationalAirport in Missouri, Nicolopulos said. The company has already gotten the go-ahead for the project in St. Louis, he said.

That pilot project was originally planned for Brownsville, though U.S. Homeland Security denied to give permission because there is already one dual-customs pilot project under way in Texas — in Laredo, Nicolopulos said. St. Louis, meanwhile, has been trying hard in recent years to become a major international air cargo player. No permanent dual-customs facilities currently exist in the United States.

BIAC’s Brownsville venture would complement a U.S. customs inspection facility to be housed inside a 20,000-square-foot cargo hangar that will soon break ground at the Brownsville airport. That hangar will be able to accommodate cargo jets and will also contain chillers so perishable products such as flowers and seafood from south of the border can be inspected without wilting or spoiling. Larry Brown, aviation director for the Brownsville airport, said the hangar construction project is “probably a week or two away from going out for bids” and will take 16 months to build.

Steve Clark