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US Preclearance HOW TO


“We continue to drive discussions, and my hope is we can get them all open,” she says, adding that Punta Cana’s final go-ahead rests with a tribunal of judges – preclearance status is not simply a matter of getting an airport to agree to adopt it. US airports will doubtless be keen


to see more preclearance passengers arriving. One advocate is New York, where preclearance allows it to alleviate queues at JFK and Newark by receiving US carriers’ flights from Canada to LaGuardia as domestic routes. “Preclearance creates access to


more airports, terminals and gates as compared to standing international arrival processing,” says a CBP spokesperson, who adds: “CBP currently pre-clears flights into more than 160 US airports, some of which are not staffed even by CBP for commercial arrivals like LaGuardia Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Arriving pre-cleared often results in reduced overheads for commercial carriers and a broader array of business model options to tap into.” The CBP argues preclearance also benefits US passport holders because pre-cleared passengers do not have to go through CBP inspection in the US, eliminating border formalities and queuing after long international flights. “US passengers particularly like the fact that all US immigration and customs facilities can be done in Dublin airport before travelling back to the US,” says a Dublin airport spokesperson. It also works to the advantage of passengers transferring in the US, who are otherwise confronted with the bewildering system of baggage retrieval before a connecting flight. The CBP argues travellers (and their baggage) experience far fewer missed connections in the US as they proceed directly to their transfer flights without having to clear CBP or TSA (security) hurdles. On paper, it all looks like a win-win situation, but as Arlanda, Manchester and others have found, convincing airlines – and ultimately passengers – to pay for it is a challenge, and in the tough 2019 environment it’s anyone’s guess as to which airport adopts preclearance next. 


Dublin Airport has invested heavily in new infrastructure to accommodate preclearance


Dublin reaps the rewards


One keen adopter of preclearance has been Dublin Airport, which has benefited both in terms of transfer passengers and visitors to Ireland. A spokeswoman says: “Dublin Airport’s


transatlantic traffic has more than doubled since 2014, and Dublin is now the sixth-largest gateway between Europe and North America.” Last year, four million transatlantic passengers passed through, up 16%, while Dublin has connections to 24 UK airports, three times that offered by Heathrow. The spokeswoman adds: “Passengers are


transferring from locations throughout the UK and from European destinations even when there are transatlantic options from those airports. “These transfer passengers underpin the viability of some transatlantic routes, accounting for about 40% of the passenger numbers on the flight. The routes may not exist if it were not for the transferring passenger numbers.” Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland CEO, knows this. He has seen Dublin airport, aided by preclearance, grow as a transatlantic hub, bringing with it more inbound passengers as the number of routes expands. “We’ve gone from 10 to 24 gateways in North America in the last seven years. It has opened up a whole new audience for us,” he says. “Only 30% [of Americans] coming here have connections [with the US]. It used to be 70%. That tourist traffic is helping to sustain routes, such as Boston, during the winter months.” He is enthusiastic about


further route possibilities, adding: “There is a whole range of destinations that have capacity for expansion. Texas is an incredible opportunity


Niall Gibbons


for Ireland, as is Denver, plus secondary cities like Pittsburgh.”


routesonline.com ROUTES NEWS 2019 ISSUE 2 103


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