Pre-clearance programme approved for St. Maarten

~ Heyliger welcomes news ~

WASHINGTON, D.C.–The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that it has selected eleven international airports in nine countries, including St. Maarten, for possible expansion of its U.S. pre-clearance programme to reduce delays and help passengers make connecting U.S. flights.

St. Maarten’s admission to the programme will make it the fourth non-U.S. Caribbean destination with pre-clearance.

The programme allows travellers to undergo Immigration, Customs and agricultural inspection by U.S. Customs before boarding a flight to the United States, rather than on arrival.

The new airports selected to potentially take part are El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia; Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Scotland’s Edinburgh Airport; Keflavik International Airport in Iceland; Mexico City International Airport; Italy’s Milan-Malpensa Airport; Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan; Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport in Brazil; Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Italy; São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo, Brazil; and Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten.

Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger welcomed the news and mentioned his satisfaction with the move during Winair’s 55th year anniversary reception on Friday evening. “I dreamt about this day some 20 years ago and this will allow the island to move to higher grounds and really make St. Maarten as a premier destination,” said Heyliger.

More than 10 million travellers fly to the United States from these airports annually. In May 2015, the U.S. identified 10 airports in nine countries as possible participants in the programme, including Stockholm Arlanda Airport. On Friday, the United States and Sweden signed an agreement to implement pre-clearance operations at that airport as early as 2019.

The United States expects to announce final agreements with others that were named in the 2015 expansion round.

The U.S. currently has 15 airport pre-clearance locations in six countries: Aruba; Freeport and Nassau, the Bahamas; Bermuda; Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg in Canada; Dublin and Shannon, Ireland; and Abu Dhabi.

Source: The Daily Herald