Edinburgh Airport is looking to add US Preclearance to its offerings in the next two years. Airport boss Gordon Dewar believes that with record flights to the US, now is the time to make Edinburgh more attractive and become the first UK airport to boast the facility. Let's find out more.
Critical mass achieved
Speaking to The Times, Edinburgh Airport (EDI) CEO Gordon Dewar wants to see more flights to the US and believes the demand is present to warrant the setting up of US Preclearance facilities.
For anyone unfamiliar, Preclearance allows travelers to complete US immigration at the departure airport and land in the country effectively as domestic passengers. This can save hours in queues and allows for far quicker domestic connections and no rechecking of bags.
Simple Flying recently looked at the Scottish airport's US schedule in detail for this summer, which includes seven daily flights by three airlines, including a double daily connection to Newark. Considering this, Dewar said,
"Edinburgh has always been a hugely successful market for transatlantic carriers and the [recent] demand has accelerated the opportunity for pre-clearance. There is a critical mass that says you don’t do this unless you have ‘x’ flights. That ‘x’ is probably five or six flights a day to make it a sensible investment.
With critical mass achieved, he believes that adding Preclearance could be the way forward to making Edinburgh even more attractive for further US connections, saying,
"We are way beyond that so the opportunity is even more attractive. We think it probably opens up three or four new American destinations pretty quickly and thickens up the ones we have already got.”
Repeating Dublin's move
Data quickly looks at Dublin Airport's (DUB) success before and after it added US immigration facilities. The airport has seen a sizeable schedule develop, in part, thanks to the availability of Preclearance. Aer Lingus alone flies to 10 cities in the US, rising to 13 when Delta, United, and American are factored in. This is something Edinburgh hopes it can repeat to some extent as well.
In addition to the UK market, Dewar believes travelers from the rest of Northwest Europe, such as Amsterdam or Hamburg, will also be lured to connect through EDI thanks to its offering. Exporters might be another target for Preclearance, saving hours on arrival in the US.
However, the scale is far different between Dublin and Edinburgh. The Irish capital saw 2 million seats on sale on US routes in the first ten months of the year, while Edinburgh had just 273,000. However, the airport is hoping that Preclearance will be the attraction point in the coming years.
Two years or so
Asked about a timeline, Dewar said,
"Realistically it is no less than two years away to get the approvals and plans together...We are dependent upon agreements between the UK and American governments but all the mood music is they are happy with that."
However, we have seen airports try and fail to succeed in attracting US Preclearance before, most recently Taipei Airport's rejection due to "good security measures," per Taipei News. Another major US ally, it's unclear if Edinburgh will have more luck. We've looked at why Preclearance wouldn't work at London Heathrow, but could Edinburgh be the first in the UK to make it happen?