December 6, 2012

Dear Fellow ALPA Member,

Recently, Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said he is “confident” that talks between the U.S. and United Arab Emirates governments to create a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport would generate results “in the coming months—the sooner the better for me.”

Sure, it’s better for him. Mr. Hogan will again seize an opportunity to exploit another lopsided advantage given to foreign airlines because of the flawed policy of our very own U.S. government. Yet despite the serious handicap it presents for the U.S. airline industry and its employees—and believe me when I say we’ve let the Administration know the far-reaching negative ramifications of this deal–the U.S. government may be pressing on with a DHS proposal to establish a CBP preclearance facility that would be a boon for Etihad Airways.

The future of the U.S. airline piloting profession needs your support today to take this deal off the table. As I said in my October letter, we must stand as one or we will be undone. I urged you to get involved and be ready to voice your concerns. The time has come, and our first Call to Action is here.

Now, let me tell you why we need to act on this important issue. By allowing passengers flying to the United States from Abu Dhabi—where Etihad is based—to clear customs while still in the UAE, the U.S. government would hand state-owned Etihad Airways a hefty convenience to offer customers—a huge benefit in competing with U.S. carriers and their alliance partners for the burgeoning numbers of passengers flying from Asia or the Middle East to the United States.

The United States today operates 15 preclearance locations at airports in Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean. Each of these airports is served by at least one U.S. airline, with U.S. pilots flying at least 40% of the traffic to the U.S. As a result, these facilities benefit U.S. airline passengers and also the U.S. airline industry and its employees. But that would not be the case at Abu Dhabi because no U.S. airline flies there. The preclearance facility would be just one more advantage for a state-owned airline that already benefits from its government’s pro-growth policies.

While the U.S. government proposal at Abu Dhabi is disturbing on its own merits, the DHS is also seeking permission from Congress to provide more preclearance facilities to foreign governments that will pay for them. If the DHS succeeds, this “money talks” policy could mean that CBP facilities are established without regard for staffing at other domestic and international CBP facilities, and it could compromise the U.S. airline industry’s ability to compete and provide jobs.

It is imperative that you join ALPA’s effort by contacting the White House to ask the administration to end this proposal for a CBP preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi and to prevent CBP facilities from being placed at airports where they will help U.S. airlines’ competitors.

Let’s remind our government to support our jobs first. Participate in the ALPA Call to Action today.

More to come,

Capt. Lee Moak 

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