ALPA Blasts Abu Dhabi Customs Preclearance Proposal
Administration proposal to establish a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport must be immediately dropped, said
Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l in a
letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Napolitano. The
proposal will inevitably do two things: hand a state-backed foreign airline a
competitive edge over U.S. airlines and reallocate CBP resources at a time of
across-the-board budget cuts and long delays for U.S. airlines’ passengers.
“This misguided administration proposal adds insult to injury by using U.S.
taxpayers’ money to give foreign airlines a competitive advantage over U.S.
airlines while at the same time making it more difficult for U.S. airlines’
passengers to clear customs,” continued Moak. “The Administration needs to get
behind U.S. airlines and U.S. workers by immediately dropping this flawed
The Administration’s proposal to establish a CBP
preclearance facility in the UAE would exclusively benefit state-backed Etihad
Airways, the UAE’s national airline, because no U.S. airlines currently serve
Abu Dhabi International Airport. By allowing its customers to clear customs
while still in the UAE, the proposed facility would give Etihad Airways a
significant convenience to offer as it competes against U.S. airlines for
passengers flying to the United States from Asia or the Middle East.
The U.S. Congress recently passed language in the FY 2013 Continuing
Resolution that prohibits the use of third-party reimbursement for preclearance
facilities such as the one the Administration is proposing in Abu Dhabi, which
means that funding for an Abu Dhabi facility would have to come out of monies
that are or could be used to operate and staff existing facilities.
“DHS resources and CBP facilities and services should first and foremost
benefit U.S. travelers, U.S. airlines and their employees, U.S. taxpayers, and
the U.S. economy,” said Moak in the letter sent today. “A preclearance facility
in Abu Dhabi benefitting only Etihad Airways fails this test.”