DHS Preclearance Center in Abu Dhabi Has to Go

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Refurbished Terminal 1 - Courtesy of ADAC

Courtesy of ADAC

The decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to open a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance center at Abu Dhabi International Airport leaves many of us scratching our head.

We don’t agree with the airlines on everything.  But on this issue we do and join them in fighting this wrongheaded policy that places U.S. airlines and their employees at a competitive disadvantage.

So why would DHS establish, with taxpayer dollars, a preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi for an Emirate not served by a U.S. airline?  Scratching your head yet?

You see, all the benefits realized from this policy flow to the UAE’s wholly owned carrier, Etihad Airways.  Etihad, an airline operating free of corporate taxes at home, would be able to market its convenient preclearance services courtesy of the U.S. government.  Anyone else have a problem with handing them that competitive advantage over U.S. carriers and their employees?

We already have 15 preclearance facilities, in Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean, all at airports served by at least one U.S. airline and where a large percentage of the passengers cleared through CBP continue their trip with a ticket on a U.S. airline.  The Abu Dhabi plan is different, and unacceptable.

We are in an extremely competitive era in a highly globalized airline industry.  It makes no sense to divert precious U.S. resources to benefit only a foreign emirate and its wholly owned national air carrier that wants to clean our clock.

Fortunately many in Congress are working to quash this unwise DHS initiative.   We will step up our effort to convince DHS to withdraw its ill-advised plan.  It defies common sense and harms the U.S. aviation industry and its workers.

2 thoughts on “DHS Preclearance Center in Abu Dhabi Has to Go

  1. I wish to point out that actually the government is not suppose to be in power to support US businesses, but first and foremost, it’s citizens, with the benefit to business being secondary. It is sad to hear when someone fails to grasp that this pre-clearance facility does not prevent travellers from flying to the United States, but instead encourages those flyers that this facility would serve TO fly to the United States. I know that I for one love that we at least have pre-clearance facilities here at major Canadian hub airports and welcome them to be put elsewhere worldwide. For the benefit of the traveling public this should be done independently of consideration to which airlines it serves and instead determined by traffic volume & potential influx of economic investment in the United States from foreign investors from the given location. If a US carrier wishes to set themselves apart in the market, they should do this the classic way, provide the best service and value to the customer, not by lobbying to block their competition.

  2. Once again the U.S. needs a new National Aviation Commission (NAC). The FAA would be removed from the USDOT(far too busy with surface modes) and report to a new 5 member NAC that will be responsible for national and international aviation planning, policy, vision and will promote U.S. aviation around the world. All other Federal agency aviation activity will be transferred to the NAC!


    William F. Shea
    Woodland, CA

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