Another milestone in the city of Gary was celebrated Wednesday, August 8 with the ribbon cutting for the new Customs and Border Protection facility at the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
“We can now check the box, this is truly an international airport,” said Lynn Eplawy, managing partner for the Gary Jet Center, the oldest general aviation servicer at the airport.
“Within 40 miles of downtown Chicago, there are 19 public airports. It’s a lot of competition. We’ve been here 30 years. We have not been able to check the box for international airport. Now we can, because we have customs,” Eplawy said.
Eplawy was among the speakers at the ceremony recognizing the growth and promises of the new customs facility.
“It’s evidence that our airport is growing and taking off. And we want to see it continue,” said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
With the opening of the new customs facility, airport users can now fly into Gary from any point on the globe without having to stop elsewhere to clear customs. Before, international traffic coming to Gary had to stop at Midway or O’Hare to clear customs, then come to Gary.
General aviation and corporate flights will be the main users of the facility, the mayor said, since those are the types of traffic at the airport. “With our own customs facility, we hope to attract commercial users.”
“Take for instance the Boeing Corp., which uses the Gary Airport as headquarters for its corporate fleet. The company’s corporate international flights had to clear customs in Chicago before heading home to Gary,” the mayor said.
“The grand opening of the new general aviation customs facility opens the door to a whole new international market and services for the airport and its users. There’s a lot of momentum at our backs, and we are excited about the continued growth of the airport and opportunities Customs at the airport will bring,” said GYY Authority Chairman Tim Fesko.
Senator Joe Donnelly called it an historic moment and pointed to the sign that said “Welcome to the United States.” “It’s going to change everything for us. We’re going to have so much coming through here next year, with people and cargo. If there is an easy way to get to downtown Chicago, it’s in Gary.”
The new U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility is anticipated to open within the next month. Find more information on the facility, as well as the airport and the other services offered, at www.FlyGYY.com.
Fesko, chairman, GYY Airport Authority; Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; and Duane Hayden, executive director, Gary/Chicago International Airport