US to boost Abu Dhabi immigration pre-clearance

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Abu Dhabi International Airport will reportedly introduce automatic passport scanners at its new US immigration clearance desk after long queues caused flight delays.

The airport became the first in about 30 years to be granted approval to pre-screen passengers and process customs declarations before travellers board flights to the US.

But the service, introduced in January, has been unable to cope with demand, causing regular flight delays.

US Customs and Border Protection is now planning to install automatic passport scanners for passengers from the US, Canada and countries with US visa-waiver arrangements, such as the UK, The National reported.

More than 40 per cent of passengers travelling to the US would be eligible to use the scanners, reducing the number of people who need to be processed by a US immigration official.

The technology is expected to be installed in six to eight weeks.

The US also has immigration and customs pre-clearance systems in several locations in Canada, some Caribbean islands and Ireland.

Its approval for the same service in the UAE was criticised by a large number of US senators, the Airlines for America union group, the Global Business Travel Association and others, who claimed it would divert resources from congested domestic airports.

At the time, they called on the Department of Homeland Security to clarify why it was allowing a foreign government to pay for “core security functions”.

The service is operated by US customs and immigration officials but Abu Dhabi reportedly pays 80 percent of the cost.

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