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Your Tax Dollars at Work in Abu Dhabi?

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Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

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Las Vegas CBS KXNT – On average, there’s a 45 minute wait to go through customs at Mc Carran International Airport, according to data compiled from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

A plan that will divert American tax dollars to build and staff a Customs “pre-clearance” center in Abu Dhabi is partly to blame, according to an alliance of airline professionals. Airlines for America says that money should go toward staffing up customs checkpoints in American cities instead.

The group wants to persuade congress that it’s bad for business when international tourists wait up to an hour or more in Customs after long overseas flights.

A4A Spokesperson Jean Medina told KXNT no U.S. airline serves Abu Dhabi. The planned pre-clearance center will be a convenience for 573 people who fly each day from the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, she said. Those passengers will be able to deplane in the United States and head straight to the curb for a taxi, while passengers on U.S. commercial carriers spend an hour or more in customs.

“Take that in comparison to Las Vegas, which has half a million people flying in every month,” said Medina. “That would be a better place to put resources.”

“What’s at stake is good customer service,” Medina said. “What’s at stake is a bad experience for people traveling to our country.”

At 45 minutes, McCarran does not have the longest Customs delay in the nation. Average daily wait time at New York’s JFK is 90 minutes, Medina said. It’s an hour and fifteen minutes at Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare are both over an hour.

The United States will pay for 15 percent of the Abu Dhabi project, which amounts to “millions of dollars,” Medina said. The United Arab Emirates will pick up the rest. But more U.S. customs outposts may follow in other Middle Eastern countries, with Abu Dhabi as a model, she told KXNT.

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