The U.S. Customs and Border Protection's pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi airport commenced operations on Monday, January 27, 2014.
Etihad will be the sole beneficiary of the new facility since it's the only airline flying to the U.S. from Abu Dhabi airport presently.
The new facility will let travelers pass through immigration, customs, public health and Department of Agriculture inspections at the Abu Dhabi International Airport before boarding the aircraft.
Pre-clearance facilities are supposed to reduce congestion at busy ports of entry in the U.S.
Pre-cleared travelers land at U.S. airports as if they were domestic travelers making it convenient for them to catch connecting flights without the delays associated with going through immigration or customs inspections.
Abu Dhab International Airport is the first in the Middle East to get U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facility.
The Abu Dhabi pre-clearance facility has drawn flak from Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association for investment of U.S. taxpayers money that will only benefit foreign carriers. Currently no U.S. airline operates out of Abu Dhabi.
Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas, Aruba and Ireland have had pre-clearance facilities for several years.