Edinburgh Airport earmarked for US Preclearance expansion

Travellers departing Scotland could soon get to avoid the long queues at the US customs thanks to fast track checks at Edinburgh Airport.

Edinburgh is the only UK airport considered in this round of Preclearance expansion. Picture: Toby Williams

Scotland’s fastest growing airport has been selected by US officials as one of 11 possible new sites for expansion of their Preclearance operations.

Edinburgh Airport is the latest airport in the UK to be considered for Preclearance after London Heathrow and Manchester Airport were identified as priority locations for expansion in May 2015.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The initial proposal to put Edinburgh and Glasgow airports forward as candidates for fast track entry checks, as revealed exclusively by the Scotland on Sunday, was first considered by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) in 2012.

Passengers availing of Preclearance have their passports checked by US immigration officials and cleared by US customs for entry into the United States at their departure airport.

Passengers are not subject to further check as flights arrive at domestic rather than international terminals at US airports.

US-bound Scottish passengers flying with Irish carrier Aer Lingus already avail of the facility by transitting through Dublin or Shannon airports.

US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said: “Preclearance has proven to be a valuable tool for CBP, foreign airports, the aviation industry, and most importantly, the traveler, who benefits from shorter wait times.”

11.3 million passengers passed through Edinburgh Airport last year - the busiest year on record at a Scottish airport.

United, Delta and American Airlines operate daily flights from the capital to New York while budget airline Norwegian Air announced in May new routes from Edinburgh to Boston, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC from spring 2017.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “We are delighted that Edinburgh has been named as the only UK airport invited to participate in this phase of the US Government Pre-Clearance programme. It is testament to the hard work and creativity of the team here in demonstrating to the US Government our ability to meet their high standards.

“This announcement now gives us the opportunity to build a business case with our partners airlines and others and understand better the opportunity that this invitation offers.”

Keflavik International Airport in Iceland, Milan’s Malpensa Airport and Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome were the only other European airports selected for possible Preclearance alongside Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport, Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) in Buenos Aires and Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.

The US currently has Preclearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries, including Dublin and Shannon in Ireland, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal in Canada.