A report on the economic impact of the pre-clearance program for flights into the United States from airports in other countries claims that it creates “economic development because it promotes increased trade and attracts new businesses, encourages investment and creates jobs”.
When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pre-checks or pre-clearance at the airport of origin, that flight arrives at the destination U.S. airport as a domestic flight, freed from completing those formalities for its passengers and cargo, which facilitates the speed of the arrival process. This opens access to dozens of U.S. airports that do not have Immigration and Customs Enforcement services for international flights.
The report on the economic value of pre-clearance was prepared by Airports Council International North America (ACI-NA), which represents commercial airports in the United States and Canada and was released last week.
The Dominican Republic signed a preclearance agreement in 2016 to include the preclearance process at Dominican airports that would give access to at least 66 airports in the United States and is pending approval in the Constitutional Court. The airports of Las Americas, La Romana, Punta Cana, Santiago, Puerto Plata, Samana and the Pedernales airport when it opens may benefit.
“Airports and governments have worked together for decades to improve the cross-border flow of travelers, and the U.S. preclearance serves as a model for expansion both in North America and around the world,” Michael Landguth president of the Raleigh-Durham Port Authority.
He said the report confirms that preclearance “supports long-term economic growth and investment in regions where it has been implemented, improves the passenger experience and creates new opportunities for airports.”
“Preclearance operations are not just a convenience for Canadians traveling to the United States. It is a catalyst that drives travel and tourism, investment and trade,” said Montreal Airport President Philippe Rainville, who also chairs a committee of Canada’s largest airports.
In Canada, the eight largest airports benefit from preclearance, where 180,000 flights to 66 U.S. airports were processed in 2019.
Rainville explained that preclearance in addition to hub airports, provides access to regions of the United States that lack customs, immigration and other services, creating direct links between Canada and smaller U.S. communities.
U.S. preclearance, the ACI-NA report states, benefits passengers, airports, airlines and local economies.
For local economies, preclearance is an opportunity for development through increased trade, tourism, new businesses and investment and job creation, including at airports through the creation of jobs to handle the increased flow of passengers and cargo.
In the case of passengers, he says, because it reduces waiting time for inspection and clearance, they arrive at less congested lounges and do not have to go through immigration and customs upon arrival; and for airports it creates new direct routes with competitive advantages for other travelers bound for the United States.
Airlines have access to less expensive U.S. domestic airports with more flexible arrival times, reduced fines and costs associated with repatriation of inadmissible passengers, and the ability to establish new routes to desirable destinations.