Passengers arriving in the U.S. on international flights this week experienced multi-hour long waits at some of our nation’s busiest airports’ customs entry points. International travelers to Dallas missed connecting flights and suffered wait times in excess of 4 hours as they waited to clear Customs through what was at one point only one staffed entry booth. In Orlando, customs lines take more than an hour to clear and peak wait times at JFK International Airport in New York have reached 94 minutes.
The Administration has pointed to budget cutbacks mandated by the sequester as an explanation for the expanding lines, yet it is moving forward with a plan to invest more Customs and Border Protection resources in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. By constructing a new pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi Airport, the Administration will be shifting much needed staffing capacity overseas to an airport where no U.S. airline flies. Instead of prioritizing travelers entering the U.S., the Administration is supporting a customs facility that will only benefit the state-owned foreign carrier Etihad. Not only will this harm U.S. passengers, it places our domestic carriers and U.S. airline employees at a competitive disadvantage.
ALPA strongly opposes the allocation of customs resources to Abu Dhabi and believes the U.S. government should reduce wait times at domestic airports while pursuing policies to level the playing field for U.S. airlines and their employees. You can join ALPA in opposing the new pre-clearance facility by writing Congress at www.alpa.org/portals/alpa/drawthelinehere/