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US pilots slam Abu Dhabi airport facility move

Dallas, January 25, 2014

A leading American pilots association has expressed concern over the opening of a pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi airport by the US government.

UAE national carrier Etihad recently operated its first flight to the US utilizing the new Customs and Border Patrol's pre-clearance facility.

The facility was funded earlier this month through the $1 trillion-plus omnibus spending bill, a gigantic measure which received very little debate, said the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (Swapa) in it statement.

Condemning the move, Swapa said it joined the US airlines and their associated labour groups "in opposing the investment of US taxpayer money into a facility that will only benefit foreign carriers."

The pilots' association pointed out that since no US airline presently operated a single flight at Abu Dhabi, the lone benefactor from this move was the state-owned Etihad.

Swapa further stated that the traffic rate at the Abu Dhabi airport for US-bound passengers was less than 200 per day on average, thus making the facility "a poor investment of US taxpayers' increasingly limited resources."

"Southwest pilots stand together with industry and labour partners to express our dismay at the federal government's regrettable actions in choosing to open this unnecessary pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi," remarked its president Captain Mark Richardson.

Richardson said the US carriers were more than willing to compete against any airline in the world, including state-sponsored Middle East entities.

"However, Middle East entities that already enjoy generous state sponsorship should not receive additional government support from the US taxpayer. We oppose our own government tilting the playing field further against US airlines," he added.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Abu Dhabi airport | US pilots | Customs and Border Patrol |

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