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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Al Baker rules out US security pre-clearance for Qatar’s Hamad airport

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hia19
Hamad International Airport

Citing potential flight delays, Qatar Airways‘ CEO has said the airline is scrapping plans to adopt pre-clearance security procedures for passengers flying to the US through Hamad International Airport (HIA).

Akbar Al Baker ruled out establishing the system while speaking at last week’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Arabian Business reports.

The idea behind the pre-clearance system is to enable passengers traveling to the US to finish customs procedures before boarding their flight, so they can avoid long queues when they arrive at their destination.

So far, the system is operational in just three cities outside of North America – Abu Dhabi, and Dublin and Shannon in Ireland.

Last year, Al Baker said that he was in talks with US authorities to establish the procedure at HIA as the airline expanded its service into America. A Qatar Airways spokesperson declined to comment to Doha News on the status of the carrier’s application for pre-clearance permissions.

Akbar Al Baker
Akbar Al Baker

But the CEO appears to have had a change of heart in any case, saying apparent delays incurred by rival Etihad in Abu Dhabi was one of a number of reasons Qatar Airways decided not to introduce the measures.

“I will not have pre-clearance in Doha and from what I know, Dubai will not have that,” he is quoted as saying.

The official added that he would prefer a smooth transition in Doha and that as an airline, his duty is to get passengers to their destinations on time, as “What happens there in the immigration is not my problem.”

He continued:

 “If I start doing pre-clearance in Doha and my aircraft constantly arrives late into the US, which is happening now with Etihad, I’m obliged to provide accommodation to my customers who misconnect, because they never asked us to pre-clear.

This is something we generated, so I would rather take the passenger on time to their destination and then what happens in immigration and customs is not my problem. I don’t want to create another confusion or delay by pre-clearing passengers.”

Delays

When Abu Dhabi airport adopted the procedures in January last year, the US-based Air Line Pilots Association, which has 50,000 members, protested at what they said amounted to an unfair advantage for the state-backed Gulf carriers over their competitors, the Wall Street Journal said.

Abu Dhabi airport
Abu Dhabi airport

Since then, passengers have complained of enduring long delays.

Last May, UAE newspaper The National reported that there were plans to bring in new systems to improve efficiency. But months later, frequent fliers were still blogging about long queues.

In the blog Onemileatatime, Lucky described the facility as a “disaster,” saying it added time to the journey instead of shortening it.

And last November, Forbes quoted from FlightStats.com showing that in the previous two months, only 1 percent of flights from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles arrived on time, with average delays of one hour. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of Etihad flights arrived on time between Abu Dhabi and Chicago.

The report quoted an unnamed source as saying that the delays were due almost entirely to queues at the pre-clearance facility.

HIA figures

Meanwhile, traffic at HIA continues to grow at a rapid clip. According to newly released passenger figures, a total of 7.3 million passengers passed through the airport in the first three months of this year – up 17 percent on the passenger numbers for the same period last year at Doha International Airport.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

January was the busiest month this year so far for travel, with 2,589,403 passengers departing, arriving and transiting through the airport. There were 2,285,221 passengers in February; and 2,485,684 for the month of March, HIA said.

HIA’s Chief Operating Officer Badr Mohammed Al Meer added that the airport is already gearing up to cope with a significant spike in travelers during the busy summer months, saying “HIA is fully prepared for the rise in aircraft movements and passenger traffic expected during the summer.”

As passenger traffic increases, the airport recently introduced parking fees for its long-term parking lot, which was previously free. It now costs QR45/day to park in the lot.

Thoughts?

34 COMMENTS

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local
local
6 years ago

Good choice Al Baker.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Best to leave it to America, so the muslims travellers are only ‘randomly’ picked out when they get there.

Phoe
Phoe
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I don’t believe they even claim it’s random anymore, it’s just a given. Also in all fairness it’s not just Muslims, it’s a host of nationalities including Arabs, some Asians and some Europeans.

Victor
Victor
6 years ago
Reply to  Phoe

And Latin Americans, I’ve been “randomly” selected many times as well.

Arab
Arab
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I was randomly checked 6 out of the 6 times I went to the US 🙂

SLICK
SLICK
6 years ago
Reply to  Arab

Good for you 🙂

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Arab

That’s not fair, you get personal attention everytime, I just have to wait in the queue like everyone else….

Danish
Danish
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Mind your thoughts about MUSLIMS.. You mean to say we are threat to US? wash your mentality away by all this hypocritical thoughts.. terrorism don’t have any religion.. and your kind of people only give space to it… grow up by your mentality MR.DUCK000000000000000000000000000000000…..

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Danish

You are suffering from “Instant Muslim Rage Syndrome”, which leads to violent reactionary breakouts whenever someone who is not muslim uses the word Muslim or Islam in a sentence….

danish
danish
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Yes exactly.. Reason behind is I Love n respect my religion and i am unable to bare if any one will highlight out towards my religion for such insulting points .. Secondly I don’t even know which religion you belongs and whatever religion it is my ISLAM has taught me to Respect Each and Every Religion and I do.,… So next time think twice before pointing some one please…

Simon
Simon
6 years ago
Reply to  danish

“grow up by your mentality MR.DUCK000000000000000000000000000000000…..”

Respect???? Get out of here!

danish
danish
6 years ago
Reply to  Simon

Attention all!!!!.. Hit-man is here..

danish
danish
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

And I am sorry if you felt I insulted you or Your Religion…

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Danish

Yeah… might have a point, but I don’t know what it is. Consider rewriting.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

I was actually pointing out how unfair it is for muslims to be ‘randomly’ selected always, but sometimes I forget English is not everyone’s first language and it gets lost in translation….. good to see Muslims over reacting as always and living up to the stereotype….. :-o)

danish
danish
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

well we can see how much favoritism you were doing for MUSLIMS and your this comment also described every thought you had in your first comment…

Jen
Jen
6 years ago
Reply to  danish

You did not understand what he had written: he was not saying anything bad about muslims. If you knew english as a first language you would see that. Just like if you wrote in arabic, even if I could understand some I would miss if you were being ironic etc. In this post–he was not saying anything bad about muslims.

danish
danish
6 years ago
Reply to  Jen

” good to see Muslims over reacting as always and living up to the stereotype….. :-o)”..
yea Jen i got your point very well..

Jen
Jen
6 years ago
Reply to  danish

Oh my gosh! Best for me to just keep quiet I see and not try explain anything. Have a good eve.

qatari
qatari
6 years ago
Reply to  Danish

dont mind MIMH, his anti -religion . so he fights its like its his religious duty. HA

Jen
Jen
6 years ago
Reply to  Danish

You seem to have misunderstood MIMH comments–the first part is in italics ‘…’ it is actually pointing out about America not Muslims–and the second comment on personal attention is a joke. ( another language meanings are not always easy to understand if it is not one’s first language).

Mr. Burns
Mr. Burns
6 years ago

It can be done efficiently, just go to Montreal or Toronto. I’m guessing he doesn’t want to draw more attention to the airline by pissing off the US carriers and pilot unions even more.

Phoe
Phoe
6 years ago
Reply to  Mr. Burns

The people travelling between Canada and the US are usually already vetted, people coming from the Middle East will take a lot more time for the US immigration to process them.

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago
Reply to  Mr. Burns

I don’t know what the arrangement in Doha may have been, but in Abu Dhabi the airport itself pays 85% of the cost of pre-screening the passengers. Perhaps it’s a simple case of Qatar not being enthusiastic about paying for something that they don’t need to provide.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

Is this an admission of defeat by Al Baker – rather than denying boarding to passengers who refuse to turn up at the gate on time, they would instead rather hold the flight and let it arrive late.

How many times have you sat on a Qatar Airways flight while the pilot apologises for the late departure…. “just waiting on a few last passengers to board and then we can push back…”.

Coco
Coco
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

It’s a taxi service..i guess that’s where all the stars come from.

Diego
Diego
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

I wonder about that too.They also have this in Toronto, so its not limited to the Countries mentioned,and it is quite efficient.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

All the time……and then how about the seat shuffle because they don’t have seats together because of their late check in, so people have to move here there and everywhere because Khalid will not have Fatima sit away from him….perhaps show up on time and check in on line like the rest of us sport…

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Deleting for stereotyping.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

Yawn.

JT
JT
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

The pilot waits for the last few passengers because a) there may be passengers who came in on connecting flights and are still being processed or transfered through the airport b) taking out late passengers baggage can take more time than waiting.

It’s in the airlines interest to take off on time as they will burn less fuel getting to their destination and meet their landing spot.

SLICK
SLICK
6 years ago

I like this comment: “If I start doing pre-clearance in Doha and my aircraft constantly arrives late into the US, which is happening now with Etihad, I’m obliged to provide accommodation to my customers who misconnect, because they never asked us to pre-clear.” So what your saying is, your customers will want 5 star accommodations in Washington, Dallas, and Miami since they missed their next flight? Who in their right mind travels 14 – 16 hours on a flight and doesn’t count on at least a few hours before their next flight? Also, most people flying that long don’t even have connections and if they do, they will be the next day. Qatari Airways just want to show they can be on-time, outshining their regional rival. Gaming the game.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago

I am really interested to know about Al Baker’s level of education. He seems to not be very accountable on what he says on multiple occasions. Weird for a CEO 🙂

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