ST. THOMAS — Customs officials temporarily resorted to pen-and-paper and calling passports in via phone Friday morning at King Airport, officials said.
The delay affected only one plane, JetBlue Flight 1035 from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico, said Jeffrey Quinones, public affairs spokesman for the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The flight departed from Gate 5 at King Airport at 8:56 a.m. and arrived in San Juan at 9:29 a.m., according to the JetBlue website. The flight was scheduled to depart at 8:16 a.m.
The problem originated with the Customs office’s computer equipment, Quinones said.
“There’s a problem with the broadband provider in the V.I.,” he said. “So it was a malfunction from their end.”
Quinones said he did not know the name of the Internet provider in question.
As a result, Customs agents had passengers fill out paper forms, and called Customs offices in other states to verify their passports, Quinones said.
Viya spokeswoman Jennifer Matarangas-King said Friday her company’s network — the largest such provider in the Virgin Islands — had not suffered any outages.
Customs agents were able to bring in mobile workstations to replace the malfunctioning equipment, and the rest of the day proceeded without incident, Quinones said.
Quinones said he did not know whether delays had caused passengers to miss flights.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is a subdivision of the U.S. Homeland Security Department overseeing security at the U.S. border. It is the successor agency to the U.S. Border Patrol, established in 1924 under the U.S. Labor Department. Customs and Border Protection is the largest federal law enforcement agency in the United States.
While the territory is part of the United States, it exists within a separate trade boundary from the U.S. mainland.