WASHINGTON, 2013-07-19 — /travelprnews.com/ — Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), today urged Congress to support the U.S. aviation industry and prohibit funding for a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facility at the Abu Dhabi International Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In testimony to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, Moak detailed the potential harm that a preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi would have on U.S. airlines and the millions of Americans employed directly or indirectly by the industry. Moak also advocated for Congress to take decisive action in leveling the playing field and strengthening the U.S. aviation industry—without wasting taxpayers’ money.
“It makes no sense to have an Abu Dhabi preclearance facility, as no U.S. carrier flies between Abu Dhabi and the United States,” said Moak. “Nor does it make ‘cents’ to use U.S. taxpayers’ money as financial assistance to one of the wealthiest emirates in the UAE, especially when doing so would provide a foreign airline with distinct marketing advantages and further exacerbate the disadvantages that U.S. airlines face in the international marketplace.”
Today’s hearing to investigate the effects of the Abu Dhabi preclearance facility on U.S. businesses was an important step toward promoting our nation’s airlines; however, more needs to be done in order to protect the future of the U.S. aviation industry.
ALPA recommended the following:
• The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should abandon any plans to open a preclearance facility in the UAE, or any country where U.S. carriers do not do at least a majority of the flying.
• Congress should pass strong legislation that will prevent DHS from using U.S. taxpayer money to provide a benefit to non-U.S. airlines, thereby hurting U.S. airlines and their employees. It should also prohibit DHS from accepting independent funding of preclearance facilities from any third parties, including cities, countries, and carriers.
• The United States should prioritize adequate resources to fully and appropriately staff domestic customs and immigration operations to reduce passenger wait times at all international airports to a reasonable maximum. DHS should improve its services and staffing at U.S. airports instead of spreading its resources to foreign countries not served by any U.S. airline.
• The United States should adopt a formal transportation policy that supports our aviation industry and places it in a position to compete with every airline in the world. This policy would need to start with a complete review and reform of the tax and fee structure applied to U.S. airlines.
The U.S. airline industry and its employees operate in a hyper-competitive global marketplace. Foreign airlines are often state-owned or heavily state-sponsored and operate with significant advantages such as a tax-free local environment, beneficial regulatory policy, and virtually unlimited access to the U.S. market. In contrast, the U.S. has no formal transportation policy in place that supports aviation, and it is the most heavily taxed of all industries in America with 17 unique taxes and fees.
“U.S. airlines and their employees are driven to compete and prevail against our foreign competitors,” said Moak. “But our industry cannot prevail—or even keep pace—while hindered by actions from our own government that hurt our ability to compete in the international marketplace. The U.S. government needs to change course and level the playing field. Putting a permanent halt to the Abu Dhabi preclearance facility is a critical step in that direction.”
Written testimony is available here.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 50,000 pilots at 33 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org