Abu Dhabi Airport Prepares for Pre-Clearance Opening

Abu Dhabi preclearance

This photo comes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.  As is clearly shown, the airport continues to prepare for the opening of a new Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance site.  The U.S. Administration is forging ahead with this site, in spite of Congressional action to block it.  If allowed to open, the pre-clearance facility would be a tax-payer funded give away to Etihad airlines, offering the airline a competitive advantage over US carriers by granting them a convenience unavailable to domestic airlines.  This threatens the jobs of aviation workers and the 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 line.

To learn more and tell Congress to continue to oppose this site, visit http://www.alpa.org/portals/alpa/drawthelinehere/


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12 Responses to Abu Dhabi Airport Prepares for Pre-Clearance Opening

  1. First Officer Joseph Bryant says:

    You say that Congress has taken action to prohibit funding for this pre-clearance facility, yet the “administration is forging ahead with this site….” So, exactly how are they spending money to do it in violation of the law, unless the Congressional action the e-mail speaks of has not actually taken the form of law yet. Please update the membership on exactly what is happening. Many accuse this administration of ignoring the rule of law in a number of cases. It certainly it looks like this is a definite case of that, unless the funding for the pre-clearance site has not actually been excluded from the DHS budget. Please make it clear whether or not this has happened. Thanks.

    • Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to explicitly prohibit any funding for a preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport as part of the FY 2014 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill. As you correctly noted, this legislation has not yet been signed into law. All federal agencies, including DHS, are operating under what is known as a “continuing resolution” which expires next Monday. The current continuing resolution [PL 113-6, Section 560(f)] also includes language that would prohibit the creation of this site, however, the Administration maintains it has the authority from other federal agencies to move ahead with its agreement with the United Arab Emirates to operate preclearance at Abu Dhabi. We believe this is contrary to the will of Congress, and we are continuing to look to Congress for help in blocking the proposal. That’s why it is so important that all of our members are voicing their concerns with this facility to their elected officials. Visit http://www.alpa.org/portals/alpa/drawthelinehere/ to write Congress now.

      • Joseph Bryant says:

        Thanks for the explanation. I certainly would agree the Administration’s actions are ignoring the will of Congress…

  2. George says:

    Is this not funded by the host country???

  3. Ryan says:

    Preclearence is not going to be an issue for US carriers because not one US carrier flies to Abu Dhabi. Also, Etihad has no domestic flights within the US. Still no competition with the US carriers. Etihad is generally a bit more expensive than other carriers… Where’s the competition with US carriers? Big business (US Carriers) is using unreasonable fear created by the media (which uses fear to scare citizens) of setting up shop in the Middle East to halt pre-clearence in Abu Dhabi. People against pre-clearence because it is in the Middle East obviously have never lived in or even been to Abu Dhabi. Also, why has the point not made that getting to US soil will actually be more difficult. People will be screened by US border patrol agents prior to even boarding the plane… Not clearing immigration means not even boarding the plane thus not entering US air space or US soil. I think this is a case of US carriers cutting corners and are backed in the corner because Etihad and the emirate of Abu Dhabi know how to treat their customers. From a proud American living in Abu Dhabi, I wish Abu Dhabi luck getting the pre-clearence. I think you will do a great job with it.

  4. Joe Bryant says:

    The question remains: Why is the U.S. government spending American tax dollars to build a pre-clearance facility in a foreign airport from which no U.S.-owned/operated airline flies?? I have, in fact, been to Abu Dhabi. I spent several months there back in 1990-91 during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I have no issues with the UAE or its people. I just don’t get why our Administration feels compelled to build a pre-clearance facility at a foreign airport that will exclusively benefit a foreign airline that is state-owned…

  5. Ryan says:

    Abu Dhabi is funding, last I read 80%, of the budget which leaves an amount smaller than what it would probably cost to improve Chicago, New York, and DC, the US three cities that Etihad flies to.

    Another point I just thought of is if funding is such a problem then why do we have pre-clearance in Ireland (Belfast, I think) Bahamas, and Canada (Toronto)? I bet the US fully funds all three of those sites. I do not hear US carriers complaining about those facilities.

    Another thing, the pre-clearence is already far better set up in Abu Dhabi than in Toronto.

  6. Joe Bryant says:

    I don’t know about the funding for pre-clearance facilities, but American owned carriers operate flights from those cities to the U.S. The question about Abu Dhabi remains unanswered…

  7. Joe Bryant says:

    I meant to say I don’t know about the funding for facilities at the locations you mentioned…

  8. Ryan says:

    I guess my point is that how can the US carriers be competing with Etihad when they do not have any flights going there in the first place?

  9. Ryan says:

    Fair enough… So, I read the article and only two points somewhat hold. The point about losing passengers from Europe and Asia has some validity, however if someone is in East Asia and Australia they are going to take a shorter flight directly to the US because the immigration lines will still take far less time than connecting in Abu Dhabi and flying over the Atlantic. In addition, passengers from Europe are not going to take 5-hour to 9-hour flight to connect to Abu Dhabi only to take a 13.5-hour flight back over Europe to the US. To do this might save 30 minutes in immigration but will add from 6 to 16.5 hours of travel. The only place the US carriers could lose money will be from India and the Middle East. However, the people in those regions will fly local carriers because they have direct flights or connect through East Asia and Europe (because it is cheaper to fly most other airlines than Etihad if you average out prices). Besides, I think Delhi is the only city that has a US carrier fly to that region.

    The other valid point made is that no US carriers fly to Abu Dhabi. If US carriers want to be more competitive, they should fly to the region (Abu Dhabi). Etihad has pretty high prices for people flying to the US and US carriers provide much lower prices and reasonable service. The Middle East is an untapped region in the US market. However, that is more because of our foreign policy. I think that is why Congress is fighting against the pre-clearence… As more of a cover up.

    I actually find the pre-clearence would produce profit and less headaches for US carriers. When passengers come to the US from Abu Dhabi, they are not only going to travel to New York, Chicago, or DC (the three cities that Etihad flies to). That only represents a small portion of the US. People go to the US to see many sites and to see family across the country, so they need connecting flights. If there is pre-clearence in Abu Dhabi there will be less red tape that passengers have to go through at US airports to make connecting flights in the US. That means less people will miss their connecting flight when they arrive on US soil because of unpredictable immigration lines. That means smaller lines in the US at the ticket counters and at the personnel at the gates trying to fix missed flights, which I am sure that the are quite a few.

    I think this is a beneficial endeavor for all sides because Abu Dhabi is footing the vast majority of the bill, the US would have less passengers clogging immigration at peak hours (late afternoon when the Etihad flights arrive in their respective US destinations), and the US carriers will need less staff to cover mishaps.

    I still fail to see a major concern.

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