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Tue 14 Mar 2017 09:25 AM

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US pre-clearance sees Etihad, Abu Dhabi "take advantage" of Trump travel ban

"So we’re seeing an increase in bookings," says CEO

US pre-clearance sees Etihad, Abu Dhabi "take advantage" of Trump travel ban
Etihad Chief Executive Officer James Hogan.

A US border post in Abu Dhabi has handed local carrier Etihad Airways an advantage over its Gulf rivals following President Donald Trump’s moves to curb immigration from a clutch of mainly Muslim countries.

The so-called pre-clearance facility means that travellers from the affected nations who think they qualify for entry can have their paperwork processed before leaving the Middle East, rather than risk being turned away on arrival in the US, Etihad Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said Monday.

“In these times of uncertainty people are moving over to Abu Dhabi to take advantage of that clearance,” Hogan said at a briefing in Serbia. “If you’re going into secondary search that’s better happening in Abu Dhabi than maybe on arrival in New York. So we’re seeing an increase in bookings.”

Gulf rival Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, said last week that there had been a 35 percent drop in the rate of US bookings in the wake of Trump’s initial ban on travel from seven nations -- later cut to six -- with demand recovering only slowly. Its Dubai hub has no pre-clearance option.

The US Customs and Border Protection facility at Abu Dhabi International Terminal 3, which opened in 2014, allows passengers to complete immigration and customs inspections before they depart. It’s the only such outpost in the Middle East and one of a handful outside North America, though the federal government has said it could seek to add more as part of a push to combat terror threats before would-be perpetrators even board a plane.

Etihad currently serves New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the US, and says it doesn’t plan to add further destinations.

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ahmed 2 years ago

Why not add pre-clearance in Dubai for Emirates? That would greatly increase bookings to on the US routes which just the other day Emirates was complaining that bookings were down on their US routes.

HLM 2 years ago

Doubt it would be possible while The Donald is the top man.

Fentoni 2 years ago

logistically (and politically) this was very difficult as it involves US homeland security and customs being stationed in Abu Dhabi to mirror their resources in any US international airport. I agree with HLM, there would be no political appetite from Trump to expand this is any new foreign airport, particularly another in the UAE less than 100km from the existing operation

Jad Aoun 2 years ago

Dubai Airport looked into establishing pre-clearance. According to Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths, the design of Dubai's terminals makes it impossible to set up.

They may set up pre-clearance at Al Maktoum Airport as part of their Phase 2 expansion which won't happen until 2025.