WORN-OUT Scottish travellers could avoid immigration checks at American airports under new government legislation.
Passengers leaving from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports could be cleared by fast-track US customs checks at home, rather than facing time-consuming queuing when they arrive in the states.
The move, which would affect 400,000 Scots passengers who fly to America each year, is currently being considered by UK and US government officials.
It is hoped the scheme could convince Scots who currently travel to England to fly to use airports north of the border.
Under the plans, passengers heading to America would have their passports checked by US immigration officers in Scotland.
The proposal could relieve pressure on crowded south-of England airports, including Heathrow.
Glasgow airport, which handles around 256,00 passengers heading to America every year, said it was supportive of the scheme.
A spokesman said: “Given the high volume of passengers that fly directly from Glasgow airport to North America on an annual basis, we would welcome any measure which would speed up entry into the US.”
A spokesman for Edinburgh airport, added: “Anything that would make it easier for our passengers to travel would be something we would support and certainly explore in greater detail.”
The proposal has also been backed by the Scottish Government.
A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “The Scottish Government welcomes any moves which will improve the passenger experience and make it more convenient for travellers between Scotland and the United States. We will work with the relevant authorities both in the US and UK on how this can best be achieved.”
The spokesman said operating such a facility will ultimately be a US authority decision.
He added: “However the government believes that US pre-clearance at UK airports could offer significant passenger benefits and improve the overall experience for passengers flying from the UK and US, whilst at the same time maintaining passenger security and a secure border which are shared US and UK priorities.
“Accordingly the government will consider, with the US authorities and interested stakeholders in the UK, the feasibility of such facilities being made available in the UK, including the practical and legal issues that would need to be addressed.”
A DfT spokeswoman said it had not made a decision on the scheme, but that Glasgow and Edinburgh airport could be included.
She said: “It is up to the airports to indicate their interest and we would be happy to engage with the US authorities.”
A spokeswoman for the American Embassy in London said US officials would “continue to review the feasibility of new locations are requests are made.”
She added: “CBP would take into consideration a variety of factors, including location, security, availability of law enforcement authorities, mission benefits, and the facilitation of US travel and commerce.”