Stockholm Arlanda Airport could become the first airport in Scandinavia to introduce US preclearance.
The Swedish government has announced its decision to look into the possibility of introducing US preclearance at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, meaning that Sweden could become the second country in Europe, after Ireland to offer the service.
US preclearance gives travellers a smoother passenger experience, with US immigration and customs inspections taking place before passengers depart Stockholm, instead of upon arrival in the US. Almost 500,000 passengers currently fly from Sweden to various destinations in the US each year.
“US preclearance makes it easier to fly from Sweden to the US and would be a very important step in improving Swedish connectivity. While we await a final decision, this is now being integrated into the development plans for Stockholm Arlanda Airport, with our aim to be the leading airport in Scandinavia,” says Torborg Chetkovich, group CEO of Swedavia.
The introduction of US preclearance depends on the final approval of both Swedish and US government authorities. Swedavia estimates that the building process, if approval is granted, would take about two years.
At World Routes in Chicago last year, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) acting deputy commissioner, Kevin McAleenan revealed the CBP’s plans to double the pre-clearance capacity at airports over the next decade.
McAleenan detailed the expansion which he explained would be led by a new pre-clearance “flexible model” that will bring security and commercial benefits to host governments, while the CBP’s goal is to pre-clear 33 percent of all US-bound passengers by 2024.
“Pre-clearance is the answer and can bring significant opportunities for commercial projects and passengers and security. About two dozen airports have contacted the CBP about pre-clearance, and we are seeing a reduction of 40-50 per cent in waiting times in airports working with us,” he said.
In Europe, US preclearance is used successfully at two airports in Ireland, Shannon Airport and Dublin Airport.
The CBP also currently permits pre-clearance at 13 locations in Canada, UAE, Bahamas, Aruba and Bermuda. Around 29 per cent of commercial aircraft and 18 per cent of commercial air travellers arriving in the US were pre-cleared in 2013.