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Tulsa International Airport Hosts Groundbreaking Ceremony for New International Customs Facility

By Katelyn Wade
Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Tulsa International Airport held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the commencement of construction on a new international customs facility, which will allow commercial air carriers to offer nonstop international flights out of TUL for the first time. The new 45,000 square foot addition to the existing terminal is expected to be completed in late 2025. The event was attended by key community stakeholders, government officials and project partners, such as Mayor G.T. Bynum, and representatives from the FAA, CBP, Flintco, Narrate, and Tulsa Regional Chamber.

The Customs and Border Protection agency has been onsite at Tulsa International Airport for decades, but up until this point, the CBP has only been able to accept and clear international general aviation and cargo flights.

The new International Customs Facility is designed to ensure a seamless experience for travelers who want to fly nonstop to TUL’s top international destinations, such as Mexico or to the Caribbean. On average, Tulsa International Airport currently has 115 passengers traveling from Tulsa to Mexico daily. 32% of TUL’s daily international traffic is to Mexico, the highest share of any country, followed by Canada at 8%, UK at 5%, and Italy at 4%. All other countries are 3% or less. Tulsa International Airport is already working to solicit nonstop service to these areas with both international and domestic carriers.

“As we continue to grow and evolve, this project reaffirms our dedication to investing in the airport’s future. This new customs facility will be an asset that not only enhances our global connectivity but also reflects our commitment to providing a seamless and efficient travel experience for our local passengers,” said Alexis Higgins, Chief Executive Officer at Tulsa International Airport. “Data shows that our passengers already love visiting destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean such as Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, and once this facility is completed, it will allow an airline to offer nonstop service to those great destinations.”

“With a continued focus on business development near the airport and increasing the number of nonstop flights out of Tulsa, the new international customs facility truly establishes the world-class footprint Tulsa deserves,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. “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. I am grateful for the Tulsa International Airport team and their dedication to expanding the services offered to travelers both to and from Tulsa.”

  Benefits of this project include:

  1. Enhanced Connectivity and Quality of Life: Nonstop international flights provide residents and businesses with convenient access to global destinations. Passengers will benefit from cultural diversity and exchange, and access to a broader range of destinations for both business and leisure travel.
  2. Increased Economic Activity: The introduction of international flights can stimulate economic growth by attracting more businesses and investors. This can lead to increased spending on local goods, services, and accommodations, boosting the overall economy.
  3. Tourism Boost: The convenience of nonstop international flights can make the region a more attractive destination for tourists. This can lead to an increase in tourism-related activities, such as hospitality, entertainment, and local attractions, benefiting the community and local businesses.
  4. Revenue Generation: International flights generate revenue for the airport through landing fees, and other associated fees from airlines. The additional revenue can be reinvested in further airport improvements.
  5. Additional Flexibility for Domestic Flight Operations: The additional gate at TUL will provide airlines with another option for domestic flight operations during peak airline activity periods.

The total project cost for design and construction is projected to be just under $41 million and is funded by Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust and grants from the Federal Aviation Administration. The new International Customs Facility has been a part of Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust’s long-range capital improvement plan since 2016.

  • $24,471,633 – Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust
  • $5,000,000 – FAA Supplemental Discretionary Funds
  • $11,322,767 – FAA Airport Infrastructure Grant (AIG)


Narrate Design (formerly Selser Schaefer Architects) is the local firm that provided design services, while Flintco is the construction contractor.

“As a native Tulsan, I’m extremely excited for the positive impact that the new International Customs Facility will have on the Tulsa community, and Flintco is honored to be a part of the project,” said Dave Kollman, Central Region President at Flintco.

“With every project we design, we tell our clients’ story,” said Tyler Sappington, Project Manager with Narrate. “We are proud to be a part of creating a welcoming space for travelers from across the world to experience Tulsa International Airport and all our great city has to offer.”

“This new customs facility stands to enhance connectivity and quality of life, increase economic activity and create jobs,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “It also is expected to generate revenue for the airport through landing fees and other associated charges from airlines. With the airport attracting more than 3.1 million passengers last year, its highest number since 2008, Tulsa International Airport business already is booming. I can’t wait to see where this project takes Tulsa — literally and figuratively — as it expands its profile as a first-class destination.”

To view renderings of the facility and photos from the event, click here.

Last Modified on Jan 31, 2024