Prague Airport wants to become one of the future European gateways to the USA. In the course of this year, it will ask for the possibility of handling passengers heading to the United States under preclearance. US immigration officials would check passengers before entering the Prague Ruzyne airplane.
Immigration checks on the Czech territory will make it much easier to travel to the USA. In that case, the passengers would land in the domestic flight mode and would not have to go through lengthy immigration checks in US territory. The possibility of preclearance may also be attractive for airlines in terms of their further development in Prague and Central Europe.
“There is a similar license in Europe at ten airports,” said Václav Řehoř, Chairman of the Prague Airport. If agreement is reached, Prague Airport will adjust the project of the second Prague terminal to meet the security requirements of the Americans. Obtaining permission for the preclearance regime takes several years.
Ruzyne cracks in the seams. The airport will add both check-in and parking spaces
While the construction modifications of the terminal will not, according to Gregory, mean a significant increase in costs, the operation of the check-in center will be expensive. In fact, it will mean relocation of immigration officials and families to Prague. It is therefore necessary to have a sufficient volume of passengers flying between Prague and the USA in order to be economically efficient.
At present, the number of flights from Prague to the North American continent is developing. New connections from Prague to Philadelphia will take place from May for American Airlines, which could transport 60,000 passengers per year (see the details for the line in this article). From Prague, direct flights to North America, New York, Toronto and Montreal are now flying. However, it is only seasonal connections so far, the year-round direct connection does not yet exist.
At Prague Airport, the number of passengers has increased in recent years. While last year’s largest Czech airport handled over 15 million passengers (more in the article Prague Airport exceeded the record), this year it expects to increase the number of passengers to 17 million. The airport’s development plan anticipates long-term growth, and in 2035 it wants to reach 30 million passengers, which will bring a massive investment in its expansion. At present, however, only about one tenth of the passenger volume is for the Prague airport. Nine out of ten people passing through Ruzyne airport come from Europe.