Delta boss slams Abu Dhabi pre-clearance plan

US shouldn’t “outsource JFK to Abu Dhabi” to reduce customs queues

The head of US carrier Delta Air Line has hit out at plans to introduce a customs pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport, which is designed to reduce hefty queuing times for passengers travelling to the US.

Richard Anderson said that delays in clearing international passengers at US airports was an “embarrassment” and the result of wider government spending cuts.

A report by US Travel said that customs delays in the US were putting $95bn worth of economic activity and 519,000 jobs in the country at risk.

“In the US we collect a fee from every passenger, but cannot get the kinds of levels of support,” Anderson told analysts during a conference call. “The answer shouldn’t be to outsource JFK to Abu Dhabi.”

The proposal to open customs pre-clearance in the UAE capital has attracted intense criticism from the airline industry and Air Line Pilots Association, among other industry groups. Among issues raised by these groups that it would give Abu Dhabi-government owned airline Etihad Airways a competitive advantage via US tax payer money.

Under the agreement, passengers flying from the UAE capital to any US city will be cleared by American customs and immigration officials before boarding their flight, speeding up the entry process and helping the US screen passengers who might be denied entry before flying to the country.

It is believed it is the first time a new destination has been approved for the service since Ireland in the 1980s. The US has operated customs pre-clearance in locations in Canada and some Caribbean islands since the 1950s and 1960s, according to the US Customs and Border Protection website.

Abu Dhabi will reportedly pay 80 percent of the cost of the service but US customs and immigration officials will need to be based in the UAE.

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Posted by: Sarah

If they are hesitant of this operation, because this is a Muslim country, then think again, because the UAE is far more organized than the US. What I am concerned about is the limited UAE 'say so' in the process. I understand that US customs will control the clearance process, but the UAE should have more increased controls over the operation, at least more than what was outlined in a previous article. The way that US customs has set this up is similar to a US base overseas, it's sort of like a little 'Vatican' airport operation. I agree with Mohammed, it made more sense to place it in Dubai, not Abu Dhabi. I guess Abu Dhabi will make any stride to lure the crowd to their city, but with the amount of long haul flights out of Dubai, Dubai would have been a better location.

Posted by: Sam

@Sarah - im a frequent traveler to US and sometimes cross the border (US/CAN) multiple times a day.
Almost everyone I saw in trouble at US border lines is because they all called for it (stupid arguments, attitudes, somehow higher sense of entitlements etc) . The reason you get to hear so much about the US is that they allow you to speak unlike Dubai, who'd happily jail a poor indian who exposed a crime being done IN PUBLIC - on grounds of violating an influential's privacy.

Posted by: traveller

Spot on Ali - my experiences at GCC airports (dubai, riyadh, dammam, abudhabi etc.) have been HORRIBLE to put it modestly. Immigration guys have their noses held up high suffering from some serious complexes. Bahrain Airport guys are exceptionally well mannered / Omani immigration guys are also great people.
Lets just switch to the US, where I would imagine they would have some serious pre-occupations about my background (pakistani muslim + former saudi resident). Every airport I went to (JFK, LGA, EWR, MCO etc.) I was first greeted with my rights bill and what choices i have.
I've also traveled from YYZ US pre-clearance - breeze !

I have made my opinions and they are positive !

Posted by: YouDoNotGetIt

Sorry I brought no crayons Sarah, I will try again
This is US Customs, the UAE government has no say in how it is run, that if from the legal perspective. If you think you have any say on how the US runs their customs you are either incredibly naive or plainly delusional
You may not have noticed but there is way more people trying to travel to the US than to the UAE (amazing, I know) and having this setup would give Etihad quite a unique competitive advantage, that is why the adults are willing to put up with the " abuse these privledges by racially stereotying people in an over-whelmingly Arab country"
It seems your elders are more business-oriented than you are: this is not to increase Emiratis travelling to the US but to compete for Arab, African, Asian and South Asian transit traffic

If you find that so annoying just simply forget about setting it up

Please apply the advice you so generously give to other people: If you are so uncomfortable traveling to the US, don't do it

Posted by: Ali

Abuse, at US Airports? Some people may face it, but at least, I, despite being a Muslim and a non-US Citizen, always get greeted and get replies to my greetings. In 30 odd instances when I passed through the Gulf, half the times the response to a greeting is either to ignore or a grunt.
Setting up a foreign customs/immigration post requires approval of both countries, in this case, the UAE has already approved it, and the US is still deciding. And guess what, the US did not beg to set up such a post, as the request likely came from the other side

Posted by: Sarah

Let Me Explain to You, if they are going to abuse these privledges by racially stereotying people in an over-whelmingly Arab country, they might as well not set up this operation. They can't exhibit unprofessionalism by abusing passengers like they do in the US, they will have to get a more appropriate demeaner to work in such a location. Abu Dhabi will approve this operation set-up, not the other way around. But passengers will gamble with this in hopes of minimizing the abuse they recieve in the US, I can assure you. It is just too bad it is in Abu Dhabi and not in Dubai.

Posted by: Jasem

The request has been officially denied for a while. I wonder why this story is being posted now.

Posted by: Ronald Ramos

Delta shut up, just replace your trash airplanes like the obsolete Boeing 747s, Boeing 757s and Boeing 767s of 40 years old. Stop acting like a baby, go with the trends, mr anderson.

Posted by: Mohamed

it will be better to place/introduce the facility at Dubai International Airport . Emirates Airline is flying to 7 US destinations, which will benefit a large number of passengers departing Dubai not to forget also two US airlines are flying to Dubai (American Airlines and Delta)

Posted by: Nader

Why are you wasting my time reading such an article?

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