US Pre-clearance Facility to be Built in Abu Dhabi
Washington, DC – May 8, 2013 (FlyersPulse.com): The US Department of Homeland Security is planning to open a controversial US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).
Typically passengers arriving into the United States clear US Immigration, Customs, and Agriculture at their first Port of Entry into the nation. However, a handful of CBP pre-clearance facilities exist and Abu Dhabi International Airport hopes to be the latest.
The new CBP pre-clearance facility will allow passengers on Etihad, as well as any US airline serving the airport, to clear US Immigration, Customs, and Department of Agriculture Inspections prior to boarding aircraft bound for the United States. Once the airliner arrives into the United States, passengers are able to deplane into domestic terminals with a security inspection at most.
Most major Canadian airports already provide CBP pre-clearance facilities for trans-border flights to the United States. Other international airports with US CBP pre-clearance facilities include:
Bermuda International (BDA)
Shannon, Ireland (SNN)
Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)
Freeport, Bahamas (FPO)
Aruba’s Queen Beatrix Intl Airport (AUA)
The United States (CBP) pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi (AUH) will be the first in the Middle East. The facility will offer easy travel to the United States via Etihad’s Abu Dhabi (AUH) Hub.
Middle East Customs & Border Protection Facility Stirs Controversy in USA
The new preclearance facility is hitting rough air with Airlines for America (A4A), the trade group representing leading US carriers. Airlines for America fiercely opposes the opening of the Abu Dhabi pre-clearance facility. Joining in opposition is the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Airports Council International – North America, Consumer Travel Alliance, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), and the Regional Airline Association.
Airlines for America argues US Domestic Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities are paid for between air carriers and passengers entering the United States through approximately $1.5 billion in yearly usage fees. In a statement, A4A said a “preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi disadvantages U.S. citizens and other visitors who are not adequately served by CBP today, often waiting hours to clear customs when returning to the United States.”
A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said, “This ‘pay-to-play’ scheme sets a dangerous and unauthorized precedent and harms U.S. citizens, jobs, the economy and the global competitiveness of the U.S. airline industry.” Calio continued, “The time is now to draw the line on this ill-conceived policy because it encourages DHS to shift its resources to those with the deepest pockets rather than addressing the greatest need.”
Calio didn’t mince words when he concluded, “Middle Eastern carriers and their governments make no secret about their aim to make locations like Abu Dhabi global hubs for commerce and tourism; having the U.S. government support that goal at the expense of U.S. workers, airlines and our economy defies comprehension.”
Etihad Touts Benefits of Preclearance Facility
On the other hand, Etihad believes the over 800 US corporations with a presence in the United Arab Emirates will benefit from the new preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said, “The establishment of the US customs and immigration facility at Abu Dhabi Airport will ensure that Etihad Airways continues to fulfil its pledge to offer a world-class customer travel experience as well as strengthening our ties that exist across many levels with the US.” Hogan added, “The state-of-the-art facility will provide passengers of Etihad Airways, and our codeshare partner American Airlines, with a seamless US preclearance process whether flying directly from Abu Dhabi Airport or transiting from a destination in Africa, Asia or the Middle East.”