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ICE Air Operations Fact Sheet

August 13, 2020


  • ICE Air Operations (IAO) is the air transportation arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • IAO is located within the ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Removal Division. IAO supports the ERO mission by providing air transportation services to ERO's 24 field offices, to facilitate the movement of aliens within the United States and the removal of aliens to destinations worldwide.
  • IAO facilitates the transportation and removal of aliens via commercial flights; and since 2006, it has transferred and/or removed hundreds of thousands of aliens using air charter services.
  • IAO procures the majority of its charter flight services from vendors through the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule. IAO chartered aircraft consists of Boeing 737s for domestic international removals and Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft for special high-risk charters. This arrangement provides IAO with cost effective and highly flexible flight services, allowing for swift adjustment to everchanging operational requirements such as dates, scheduled flight times, routes and operating locations.
  • Mexican nationals ordered removed from the United States travel on domestic flights from various U.S. cities to southern cities such as San Diego, California and Brownsville, Texas. They are then bused to the U.S.-Mexico border for removal at a land port of entry. Other foreign nationals ordered removed are flown from various U.S. cities or IAO hub cities such as Mesa, Arizona; San Antonio, Texas; Alexandria, Louisiana; and Miami, Florida to Central and South America, as well as to other destinations worldwide.
  • IAO routinely conducts domestic flights to facilitate the transfer, staging and removal of aliens via land ports of entry or, for flights abroad as well as regularly scheduled flights to countries with a high volume of removals.
  • Special high-risk charter flights are scheduled to countries or regions (including Europe, Africa, and Asia) on an as needed basis to remove aliens who fail to comply with removal efforts; aliens with serious medical conditions; as well as other high-profile removals with final orders.
  • The majority of IAO charter flights operate in the United States, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 08/13/2020