SHANNON airport could soon become a stopping off point for some of the world’s richest and most influential jet-setters.
Following the extension of the US customs and immigration pre-clearance agreement with the Irish Government this week, airport management said that the deal would allow them to market Shannon’s advantages as a transit stop for owners of private jets.
Currently, Shannon and Dublin are the only pre-clearance locations in Europe, with 1.9 million passengers availing of the service last year. In 2010 Shannon became the first airport in the World to offer private air crafts the same unique service.
Shannon Airport managing director Andrew Murphy said that the US pre-clearance facilities would allow the airport to enhance services to airline customers and business jet operators.
“This new agreement will extend the hours from 9am to 5pm daily and offer an out of hours service, which is something our executive jet customers have requested.
“Our executive jet customers, in particular, can see the time-saving benefits that this new agreement will offer. It will allow them to fly directly from Shannon to their home airport without having to go to a designated clearance airport in the US first,” Mr Murphy explained.
The agreement was approved by Government last January, and the signing represents the next step in assuring enhanced services at the US Pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon Airports.
According to Transport Minister Shane Ross, the new provisions reflect agreements reached between Irish and US officials following detailed negotiations. The Agreement will now be referred to the Dáil for final approval before entry into force.
“My Department has been engaging with the US since 2015 on the need to enhance and expand services and introduce flexibilities to pre-clearance in Ireland. The US has also been working for a number of years to expand the programme to other countries, where it is intended that a reimbursement framework for all services and facilities will be the norm as it has become in many US domestic airports.
“The amendments allow reimbursement by the airport authorities of the costs of additional and enhanced pre-clearance services in Irish airports with US authorities continuing to fund a baseline level of service, on a par with that which is offered at present.
“The additional costs will be borne by those benefitting from the enhanced services and will not be a charge on the Exchequer,” Minister Ross explained.
The revised arrangements also reflect the agreement reached on a number of other issues, including merchandise compliance agreements, the designation of pre-clearance areas and new signage to be placed in pre-clearance areas”.
From a US perspective, the new agreement enhances their Customs and Border Protection strategy of addressing continually evolving security threats “by allowing them work with foreign law enforcement and commercial carriers to prevent the boarding of potentially high-risk travellers while providing unique facilitation benefits”.
According to a US Embassy spokesman, it will also allow for continued expansion of pre-clearance services in Dublin and Shannon, including extended service hours and increased staffing, cost recovery, and improved officer safety measures.
by Miranda Leahy