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United States: DHS to Add 10 Foreign Airports to Pre-Clearance List

Airlines and Aviation

The United States Department of Homeland Security plans to offer pre-clearance facilities at 10 more foreign airports as part of its plans to have one third of U.S. bound passengers undergo pre-clearance by 2024.

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Security gates at Oslo Airport in Norway. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

 

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CSP) have announced plans initiate negotiations that would extend pre-clearance facilities to 10 more airports in 9 more countries.

Under the plan, CBP would station officers at foreign airports to screen passengers and their luggage before their departure for the United States rather than after their arrival in the United States.

The move would not only be a boon to passengers, it would also enable CBP "to stop potential threats before they arrive on US soil," DHS says.

CBP would still have authority to inspect passengers after they have landed in the United States.

"A significant homeland security priority of mine is building more preclearance capacity at airports overseas," says Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security.

"We have this now in 15 airports. I am pleased that we are seeking negotiations with ten new airports in 9 countries ... Pre-clearance is a win-win for the traveling public. It provides aviation and homeland security, and it reduces wait times upon arrival at the busiest U.S. airports."

Airlines React

Airlines have applauded the move.

"Expanding air preclearance is a tremendous step forward for improving the overall travel experience for our customers and welcoming more visitors to the United States," says Robert Isom, chief operating officer for American Airlines.

"Preclearance eases the congestion at our U.S. gateway airports and ensures our customers get to their destinations faster."

Robin Hayes, President and Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue Airways agrees.

"We believe that in addition to the need for an increase in CBP staffing at key U.S. gateway airports, more preclearance facilities like the ones being proposed around the globe are an important tool to enhance our nation's security and reduce the number of travelers clearing Customs stateside - and that ultimately reduces wait times for travelers on all airlines," Robin says..

The mood at United Airlines is equally upbeat.

"We have worked closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and support developments that provide more convenience for our customers," United Airlines says in a press release.

"We thank Secretary Johnson and his team at the Department of Homeland Security and CBP for their engagement with United and the airline industry, and we look forward to partnering with them on this initiative to facilitate travel and reduce wait times."

Airlines for America

Airline trade association Airlines for America (A4A) believes the move would not only make things more convenient for passengers, it would also greatly enhance security while boosting the economy.

“U.S. airlines drive $1.5 trillion in economic activity, and by improving the passenger experience for visitors or those returning to the United States, while improving security, we can build on that,” says A4A President and CEO Nick Calio.

“The addition of these pre-clearance airports will help increase safety and security while improving the passenger experience with shorter wait times and quicker connections on arrival in the U.S.”

The following 10 airports have been targeted ...

  • Amsterdam Airport Schipol (the Netherlands)
  • Brussels Airport (Belgium)
  • Istanbul Ataturk Airport (Turkey)
  • London Heathrow Airport (Britain)
  • Madrid-Barajas Airport (Spain)
  • Manchester Airport (Britain)
  • Oslo International Airport (Norway)
  • Punta Cana International Airport (Domican Republic)
  • Stockholm Arlanda Airport (Sweden)
  • Tokyo Narita International Airport (Japan)

CBP already has officers stationed at 15 airports in 6 countries: Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates. Wait times are said to be cut by about 13%, DHS says.

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