Manchester airport and Heathrow have been shortlisted by the US Department of Homeland Security as priority airports to host US security pre-clearance.
Pre-clearance, which allows passengers to clear immigration, customs, and agricultural inspection by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before boarding their flight, means that passengers can avoid waiting in often lengthy queues after landing in the US.
International flights which have been pre-cleared can use domestic terminals at US airports, meaning passengers connecting onto onward domestic flights can do so with shorter transfer times than those who have not been pre-cleared.
Only two other airports in Europe – Dublin and Shannon - allow for pre-clearance, with none offering it in the UK.
US homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, announced that 10 airports in nine countries - including Manchester and Heathrow - had been selected for expanded pre-clearance.
He said: “A significant homeland security priority of mine is building more pre-clearance capacity at airports overseas.
“We have this now in 15 airports. I am pleased that we are seeking negotiations with ten new airports in nine countries.
“I want to take every opportunity we have to push our homeland security out beyond our borders so that we are not defending the homeland from the one-yard line.
“Pre-clearance is a win-win for the travelling public. It provides aviation and homeland security, and it reduces wait times upon arrival at the busiest US airports.”
Airlines serving the US from Manchester include Delta, American, United, Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic and Thomson, accounting for more than 1.3 million passengers a year.
Manchester airport managing director, Ken O’Toole, said: “We have been in discussion with the US Department of Homeland Security for some time about securing pre-clearance at Manchester airport for passengers travelling to the US.
“It is pleasing to see we are on the priority list of airports, as a service like this has the potential to enhance the customer experience for passengers travelling to the US from the UK’s global gateway from the North.
“It will potentially make Manchester more attractive to airlines looking to start routes from the US into the UK.
“We look forward to working with both the UK and the US governments in the coming months to ensure that Manchester remains a priority and is granted pre-clearance status.”
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