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Boston Globe: At Logan, more staff means less time in customs lines

The long wait times to clear passport control that travelers endured at Logan Airport have been sharply reduced since the state’s congressional delegation and business leaders pressured federal authorities to increase staffing at the international terminal.

Earlier this year, travelers frequently waited as long as three hours to get through the US Customs and Border Protection inspection area at Logan’s Terminal E. But in the past month, the average maximum time is down to about 50 minutes, according to data released by the agency, while the number of agents available to process travelers is up.

The additional staffing and additional measures were in response to a testy letter US Senator Edward Markey and other congressional representatives fired off in June to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees US Customs. Local business groups sent similar complaints, saying the delays threatened to curb tourism and could hurt efforts to get airlines to add more international flights to and from Boston.

“Boston wants to put out the welcome mat to the world, and having a 90-minute to three-hour wait to come through customs sends just the opposite message,” said Markey, who met with customs and Massachusetts Port Authority officials in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the problem. “It’s improved significantly in the last couple months, but there’s more progress we can make.”

Customs and Border Protection officials did not respond to requests for comment.