The Scottish Passenger Agents Association will join Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports in “lobbying assertively” to extend US entry pre-clearance facilities.

The move follows suggestions that the Department for Transport will consider working with US authorities to expand the scheme.

It would allow more passengers to clear US Immigration and Customs checks at the departure airport before boarding, easing  arrival and on-bound transfer formalities.

SPAA air convenor Alan Glen said: “There is no down-side to this initiative.

“It would be great for Scottish travellers to the US – smoothing the arrival process; and positive for the airlines and airports – strengthening the current direct services and possibly generating new routes, too.

“The SPAA will be working hard with Glasgow and Edinburgh airport management – and hopefully the Scottish government, which also supports this initiative – to ensure that the DfT keeps Glasgow and Edinburgh firmly in the frame when considering which airports to recommend to the US authorities, and that we are successful on behalf of Scottish leisure and business travellers.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh airport, which handles 155,000 passengers flying to New York and Florida a year, said: “Anything that would make it easier for our passengers to travel would be something we would support and explore in greater detail.”

A Glasgow airport spokesman said: “Given the high volume of passengers – more than 256,000 – that fly direct from Glasgow airport to the US annually, we would welcome the introduction of any measures which would speed up entry into the US. I

“n 2009 we examined the possibility of replicating the Irish ‘pre-clearance’ model, but feedback from the US authorities then suggested that the associated costs would be prohibitive.

“If, as part of a new aviation policy framework, the UK and US authorities could examine ways to meet these costs, we believe the case for the model to be introduced at Glasgow airport would be compelling.”