Harm to U.S. Airline Jobs and Unfair Aid to Heavily State-Backed Foreign Airline Cited
WASHINGTON–The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) calls on members of Congress to support bipartisan legislation introduced today that opposes the Administration’s plan to open a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The bill introduced by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) would help ensure that U.S. customs preclearance facilities help and do not harm U.S. airlines and their workers in their drive to compete in the global marketplace.
“ALPA commends Rep. Meehan and Rep. DeFazio for their determined leadership in making certain that it’s the passengers of U.S. airlines who benefit from U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance facilities and not their state-backed foreign competitors,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president.
The legislation requires the U.S. government to perform an analysis of the potential effect on the U.S. airlines and CBP staffing before it can establish a new CBP preclearance facility, including any potential facilities at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Maktoum International Airport, and Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or at Doha International Airport in Qatar.
ALPA strongly supports the U.S. preclearance locations currently operating in Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean because each of the airports is served by at least one U.S. airline, and a significant proportion of the passengers traveling to the United States from the airport are flown by U.S. pilots.
In clear contrast, the U.S. administration’s effort to establish a CBP preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport would benefit only Etihad Airways, the heavily state-supported national airline, because no U.S. airline currently flies to the airport. In addition, Etihad already does business with powerful economic advantages from its home government that U.S. airlines do not enjoy, including a tax-free business environment.
This bill is not the first time Congress has spoken out expressing strong opposition to CBP facilities that harm U.S. airlines and their passengers while helping U.S. airlines’ state-supported foreign competition. Most recently, the U.S. House passed in June 2013 an amendment that prohibits funding for a preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
In addition, ALPA maintains that federal resources should be used to fully and appropriately staff CBP facilities at domestic airports where chronic and excessively long customs lines may discourage travelers from choosing the United States as a business or leisure destination.
“By allowing international travelers flying to the United States to walk off their plane as a domestic passenger and quickly connect to their domestic flight, a customs preclearance facility presents a significant convenience for airlines to offer in attracting customers flying to the United States from Asia or the Middle East,” continued Capt. Moak. “It is U.S. airlines and their employees, not their state-backed foreign competitors, that should benefit from a marketing advantage provided by the U.S. government as they compete to prevail in the global economic arena.”