WASHINGTON-The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, stands in strong support of an amendment offered by Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) that would prohibit funding for a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facility at the Abu Dhabi International Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The amendment passed today by voice vote as part of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.
“Congressman Meehan has a clear grasp of the fundamental issue at play,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA president in a letter to Members of Congress. “The proposed CBP preclearance site in Abu Dhabi unfairly benefits the state-sponsored air carrier of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, at the expense of our U.S. airlines and threatens American jobs. We urge Congress to stand up for our U.S. airline industry and support this common-sense amendment.”
Preclearance facilities are designed to facilitate the ease of travel at a passenger’s point of departure. ALPA supports the preclearance program at places where it makes sense, including the locations of the current 15 sites in Canada, the Caribbean, and Dublin, Ireland. However, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP recently reached an agreement with the government of the UAE to establish a CBP preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport at a time when no U.S. airline provides service to Abu Dhabi. Under the agreement, U.S. taxpayer dollars would partially fund the opening of the facility and U.S. government security workers will staff it.
“This diversion of taxpayer dollars to assist wealthy foreign airlines cannot be justified, especially in a budget environment in which U.S. airports have been understaffed for years, causing our passengers to wait in long customs lines,” Capt. Moak said. “The notion of building a facility and staffing it with U.S. government security workers in a foreign country where no U.S. airline flies is not only bad policy, but a poor use of our fiscal resources.”
This week, ALPA launched an informational web site as part of a collaborative education campaign with Airlines for America, Airports Council International, Consumer Travel Alliance, Global Business Travel Association, and the Regional Airline Association to raise the awareness of the harmful long-term impact of the proposed facility.