US industry groups criticise proposed Abu Dhabi airport pre-clearance facility

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US aviation trade associations are calling on the US Department of Homeland Security to drop plans to set up a Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International airport.

Airline association Airlines For America (A4A) says the proposed pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi will shift funding away from US domestic airports that are already underserved by CBP.

"At a time when US carriers and airports are fighting to maintain our global competitiveness, the US government should not be signing a deal that benefits a foreign emirate and its wholly owned national carrier, particularly since no US carrier serves that emirate," says A4A president and chief executive Nicholas Calio.

Recent reports in the Abu Dhabi media say the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the USA are close to announcing a decision on a proposed pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi, following a letter of intent signed in December 2011 for such a facility.

"A4A urges the administration to abandon this ill-conceived policy, cease efforts to obtain funding from foreign governments and instead continue to work with the US airline and travel and tourism industries to resolve lengthy wait times at US gateway airports," says Calio.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has also criticised the proposed Abu Dhabi plan in a recent letter sent to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"The administration's proposal to establish a CBP pre-clearance facility in the UAE would exclusively benefit state-backed Etihad Airways, the UAE's national airline, because no US airlines currently serve Abu Dhabi International airport," says ALPA.

Etihad recently commenced flights to Washington DC, adding its third US destination after New York and Chicago.