November 04, 2016

Hirono: Expanding Preclearance to Kansai Airport Benefits National Security, Hawaii Tourism

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it is expanding the U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s (CBP) preclearance program to include Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan. Senator Mazie K. Hirono pushed top Administration officials to include Kansai in today’s expansion.


“Including Kansai International Airport in the preclearance program will improve Hawaii’s competitiveness in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific tourism market,” said Senator Hirono. “Today’s announcement furthers the longstanding trust and security relationship between the United States and Japan.”


“Initiatives that support our primary industry here in Hawaii are always welcome news, particularly those that make it easier for international visitors to travel to our state and have the potential to bring additional direct flights from Japan to the neighbor islands,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “We extend our appreciation to Senator Hirono for her advocacy leadership in expanding preclearance to Japan and, in this case, the Kansai Airport.”


“I speak for Hawaii’s tourism industry in commending Senator Hirono for her leadership to improve travel access from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport to Hawaii’s neighbor islands. Inbound travelers to Hawaii prefer the convenience of nonstop flights from their home regions and this initiative by Senator Hirono begins the process for airlines to enhance their Osaka service beyond Oahu,” said President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority George D. Szigeti. “Japan is Hawaii's largest international market for travelers and, with arrivals being flat year-to-date through September, the ease of nonstop service and enhanced accessibility from Osaka would strengthen our tourism industry and the state as a whole."


In September, Senator Hirono urged Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry to include Kansai Airport in the expansion of the Preclearance program. Click here to read Senator Hirono’s letter. Nearly 600,000 visitors fly from Kansai Airport to Honolulu every year.


Last year, Senator Hirono successfully pushed to include Tokyo’s Narita Airport in the Preclearance program.


Under the preclearance program, the same passenger immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections otherwise performed on arrival in the United States can be completed before departure at foreign airports. Preclearance allows CBP to better utilize its limited resources on U.S. soil, while screening travelers before they gain access to U.S. bound flights.