WASHINGTON—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), commends actions taken by the House Homeland Security Committee today to require additional oversight of U.S. overseas preclearance facility agreements entered into by U.S. and foreign governments.
In a voice vote today, the House Homeland Security Committee passed an amendment—proposed by Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.)—to H.R. 1417, The Border Security Results Act of 2013, that would require the federal government to consider competitiveness and security issues when entering into reimbursement agreements with foreign governments for additional customs staff at preclearance facilities. The amendment, if ultimately approved by Congress, could prohibit funding for the Abu Dhabi preclearance facility by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently reached an agreement with the government of the UAE to establish a CBP preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport. While no U.S. airline provides service to the Abu Dhabi, U.S. taxpayer dollars would partially fund the opening of the facility and the government security workers who will staff it.
“We are pleased to see members of Congress take notice of this absurd agreement that will only benefit foreign airlines and their governments,” said ALPA President Capt. Lee Moak. “CBP facilities and services should first and foremost benefit U.S. travelers, airlines, and their employees. A preclearance facility in a foreign country where no U.S. airline flies is misguided and would hurt the economic viability of the U.S. airline industry and its ability to provide jobs.”
A CBP preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi Int’l Airport would give Etihad Airways a significant convenience to offer its passengers as it would allow them to clear customs while still in the UAE. It would also provide them with an advantage over U.S. airlines, with whom it competes for passengers flying to the United States from Asia and the Middle East.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing more than 50,000 pilots at 33 airlines in the United States and Canada.