Outstanding Increase in Foreign Travel Creates New Jobs at LAX


The evidence is there: the number of foreign visitors traveling to the United States is increasing exponentially. This, in essence, is good for the economy. However, it creates serious challenges in logistics and security matters.

With LAX being one of the biggest airports in the world, we cannot imagine how difficult it must be to successfully handle such incoming traffic. And the numbers continue to grow, faster and faster every month. This has forced the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to look for a solution and implement it as soon as possible.

Let’s review the implications of this new challenge for the LAX and all the opportunities behind it.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Takes Action

LAX has been operating without new officer hires for more than ten years. Reasons for this aren’t clear but now the panorama is shifting, having massive pressure coming from international travel. After a few years of prosperous numbers, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency finally decided to take action in this matter, resuming and accelerating hiring processes to bring new officers in.

What is worse, after ten years without hiring new officers the number of skilled professionals has been naturally decreasing.

For many years, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has been prioritizing border operations in its hiring processes. Locations as Texas, Arizona, and Southern California has been receiving the vast majority of new agents in order to control illegal immigration coming from Mexico.

The Challenge in Numbers

But how big is this challenge? In 2017, LAX reported a significant increase of 4.5% in passengers. The Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board also shared a few interesting insights that allow us to understand what is going on.

The most notable growth in foreign visitors come from countries like China, India, and South Korea. These countries have been growing exponentially, financially speaking, during the last few years, taking millions in poverty situation into the middle class. European countries like Germany and France also showed a relevant increase in traffic.

During the summer, LAX can easily receive up to 40,000 visitors a day from overseas. At the same time, customs screening may take one hour to finish. It’s very simple to imagine how chaotic the operations can get if the number of international travels continues to go up while the staff remains the same as now.

The Solution Isn’t Here Quite Yet

Without a doubt, it’s good news that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is working towards expanding the staff that is responsible for customs screening. Still, there is a long road ahead.

Prospective officers need to be compliant with several tests and background checks. If we take this screening process and the training into consideration and do the math, the required time before a new officer gets ready to work goes up to 18 months. Of course, international travelers cannot wait for new officers to join LAX.

In the meanwhile, experienced officers are being transferred from nearby locations in order to temporarily help with this situation. Alongside with the new agents, automated kiosks to support the process are also in the works.