Why preclearance in Abu Dhabi is good for the US

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Danny Sebright says the preclearance program will boost the US economy and facilitate more economic activity.

Danny Sebright says the preclearance program will boost the US economy and facilitate more economic activity.

Officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security recently signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to establish a preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), its first in the Arab world. 

This program, like the 15 others the US has around the globe, is good for America.

It will enhance national security, boost the American economy, and provide US-bound travelers with reduced lines, delays, and inconveniences on their journey.

This program with one of America’s closest partners in the Middle East is poised to service a growing transit hub for international passengers as business and tourist travel from the Middle East, Africa, and India increases with the US.

Government and airport authorities in Abu Dhabi welcome the facility and have made it clear to US airlines that they are welcome to fly to and from Abu Dhabi’s International Airport to tap into this new preclearance program. 

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways flies directly from AUH to three major US markets and boasts an active code-share agreement with American Airlines.

In addition to providing economic benefit to American Airlines, this code-share allows passengers to access the carrier’s domestic flights that service some 90 destinations around the US.

As frequent travelers and stakeholders in the US-UAE relationship, we understand why the U.S. government is keen to launch this initiative in Abu Dhabi:

The program will enhance US security: A program fully-staffed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the new preclearance facility in the UAE will serve to improve security and will reduce transit time and security concerns for global travelers wishing to enter the US through busy American airports.

The CBP already operates 15 preclearance facilities in Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean for these reasons.

With increased travel through geocentric transit hubs like the UAE, a 16th facility in Abu Dhabi — the country’s capital — is a very logical choice. 

The Abu Dhabi facility will effectively allow all CBP-cleared passengers to complete US customs and immigration before boarding their inbound flight to the US.

Upon arrival, these travelers will benefit from proceeding to their final destination seamlessly. 

American travelers will benefit from a significant reduction in passenger wait times and the costs associated with additional security procedures currently performed at US airports.

CBP will apply the same rigorous standards in Abu Dhabi that it applies at US airports, but will do so before any passenger that might pose a risk boards their flight.

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Posted by: RAH

Last I heard: congress was against this idea and the fact. Furthermore, the fact that the UAE (a foreign nation) would pay the salaries of those entrusted to ensure America's own borders remain safe and secure seems illogical.

As a result, it was said that CBP at AUH will never happen.

The above article is just an editorial piece stating how nice it would be if this idea could see the light. But in reality, it was shot down by many parties in the US where its negative implications have far outweighed the positive.

If anything, I would love to see London Heathrow Airport (LHR) get a CBP pre-clearance facility. LHR to USA routes serves millions of passengers every year via tens of daily flights by British Airways alone.

Posted by: MaryM

"The facility will save money for the US government. The UAE has agreed to cover 85% of the costs associated with the preclearance facility. These costs ? including the salaries of CBP officers and the expense of operating systems ? would otherwise be incurred at the U.S. airport of arrival and thus borne by the US government", hence, that is why they want to set up in the UAE and the British probably did not agree to this, however, it will be short lived because "It is worth noting that even though the U.A.E. is picking up a major part of the tab, it will have no voice in the operation of the facility and no say over the official screening decisions or procedures of the CBP officers and this will end in a rift between the UAE who are more organized than the US and the US who will demand to get their way. If this does come to fruition it is good for passengers, however, most passengers would have preferred it in Dubai not Abu Dhabi - it's like setting up a foreign military base?

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