February 19, 2013
U.S. Customs Preclearance Facilities Must
Benefit U.S. Economy, Airlines, and Workers
ALPA Urges Administration to Dismiss Proposal to Allow Foreign Governments to Pay to Create U.S. Customs Preclearance Facilities in Their Countries
Washington—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) today voiced its opposition to the inclusion of any authorization for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accept third party reimbursement for foreign Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facilities within the President’s forthcoming Fiscal Year 2014 budget. In a letter to the president, ALPA said that there are growing concerns that the DHS will seek to finance a new preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International airport by requesting reimbursement from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government.
“In contrast to these existing preclearance facilities, a preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi will only offer convenience to passengers of Etihad, one of U.S. airlines’ biggest competitors and the national airline of UAE, as no U.S. carrier flies there,” Captain Lee Moak, ALPA’s president stated in the letter. “The arrangement, funded by the UAE for a UAE-owned airport to benefit a UAE-sponsored airline, will undercut the U.S. carriers’ ability to compete in the global marketplace.”
Currently, the United States operates 15 CBP preclearance locations in Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean. Each of these airports is served by at least one U.S. airline, and at least 40 percent of that traffic to the United States is flown by U.S. pilots. These facilities offer a convenience and benefit to U.S. travelers and the U.S. airline industry and its employees.
In addition to concerns about the airline industry, this agreement would set a precedent for other foreign governments to “pay-to-play,” and thus allocate staffing, security, and other assets based on willingness to fund rather than need. A new facility at Abu Dhabi will undoubtedly further strain CBP operations and staffing levels, forcing customers at U.S. airports to endure extended wait times and undermine efforts to increase tourism.
“It is ALPA’s strong belief that CBP preclearance facilities should first and foremost benefit U.S. airlines and their employees, U.S. taxpayers, and the U.S. economy. We urge the president to not include authority for DHS to accept third-party reimbursement for the creation of CBP preclearance facilities in the FY 2014 budget request.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest airline pilot union, representing nearly 51,000 pilots at 35 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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