Aim of Linder Airport's 1st customs office: international business

By Rick Elmhorst, Anchor/Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 6:49 PM EDT

As Lakeland Linder Regional Airport will soon become an international destination, construction continues on the facility's first U.S. Customs office.

  • Office will be in airport's old terminal building
  • Goal is to draw international cargo business
  • Office should open in September 2017

The new office will be in the airport’s small old terminal building.

International travel for businesses travelers coming and going from Linder should be much easier.

John Foster with Foster’s Aircraft Refinishing said that aircraft flying in from other countries to get repainted have had to make a stop somewhere else first.

“If anybody wants to come from out of the country and they want to come to Lakeland, they have to go through Miami or Tampa. It’s a hassle,” he said.

A bigger long-term goal of having a customs office is to attract international cargo business to the airport. Airport director Gene Conrad sees Lakeland-based Publix as a prime candidate.

“There’s no reason they couldn’t fly right here into Lakeland and go to distribution and get on the road to their stores,” Conrad said.

Bob Knight with Knight Industrial also sees a wealth of potential in the international air cargo business with a customs office at Linder.

“Yeah, it’ll happen,” Knight said. “And it’s important we have customs here, because it won’t happen if we don’t.”

The customs office will cost about $1 million. It should be open for business in September.