American armed guards are likely to be stationed at the US immigration checks at British airports to screen travelers flying to the US. Edinburgh and Manchester airports are reported to be interested in a “pre-clearance facility” where passengers would be processed by US immigration officers before departure, The Sunday Times reported.Dublin airport already operates such a facility. For the scheme to go ahead in the UK there would need to be a formal agreement with the US government on all aspects of the arrangement, including whether US officials would be armed.
Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, believes the system would not be practical because it would require large parts of a terminal to be sealed off. Airports may also have to pay for US security staff and their families to live in Britain, with costs likely to be passed on to airlines and passengers, according to industry experts. “The US is very keen but I don’t get the impression they are moving anytime soon. They have been trying this for a number of years,” an aviation expert said. The UK Home Office said discussions with the US were continuing.