Another First for Shannon Airport – World’s first US Customs and Pre Clearance Facility for General Aviation Traffic must receive marketing support – BREEN.

February 4th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Welcoming the news that a resolution to the outstanding issues which had delayed the commencement of US Pre Clearance for General Aviation Aircraft at Shannon Airport has been reached between the United States and Ireland, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen said that “It was always envisaged that when the extended US Customs and Border Protection Facility opened it doors with its extended remit on the 5th August 2009, that Pre Clearance would be available for General Aviation Traffic, I am happy now that all the outstanding issues which were delaying the extension of Pre Clearance at Shannon Airport have now finally been resolved.

This is another First for Shannon Airport, it will be the only facility in the World that will allow Jet Traffic to clear Customs and Immigration Pre Clearance before entering the United States. What is required now is an aggressive marketing campaign, valuable time has already been lost, and for this campaign to succeed an investment by the Government of around €200,000 for the next three years will be necessary, this is not a huge amount of money.

My fear is that without this targeted marketing campaign the true potential of this project will not be realised.”

“When the extension to the US Pre Clearance facility at Shannon was first mooted, it was always envisaged that it would include General Aviation Aircraft. Indeed, I understand that when news spread that the Shannon facility was open on the 5th August 2009, last, that there was a large number of enquiries from General Aviation Operators. I welcome the fact that the outstanding issues which were delaying the introduction of Pre Clearance for Jet Traffic have now finally been resolved by the Irish and US Governments.”

“The next step now is for the Irish Government to give the go ahead to the Lynx Cargo Group proposal to make Shannon Airport a major cargo hub. A €7m investment is required to get this project off the ground, which needs to spent to build the necessary airside infrastructure at Shannon, the Lynx Group will do the rest.”

“The Irish Government must then re-open negotiations with the US Government to have the Pre Clearance Facility extended to include Cargo. I believe that the United States are very favourably disposed towards the expansion of the facility to include Cargo and when I had the opportunity to raise this matter with the US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, shortly after his arrival in Ireland in July of last year, I was very encouraged by his positive response.”

“The feedback from Airlines and their passengers who are using the Pre Clearance facility at Shannon is very encouraging. BA are availing of the facility for their twice-daily business class service between London City and New York. Continental and Delta Airlines have also signed up to use the facility, however, our own National Airline Aer Lingus has failed to do so, while they want the facility to be switched on in Dublin as soon as possible, which begs the question as to their long-term strategic plans for their transatlantic operation at Shannon.”
“Valuable time has already been lost at Shannon Airport. Initially, it was envisaged that Shannon Airport would have a two-year lead in before a similar facility would be operation in Dublin. There is a window of opportunity now for the Airport to capitalise on the provision of Pre Clearance for the General Aviation Sector. This facility is unique, Shannon Airport is the only Airport in the World, where Private Jets can clear Customs and Immigration prior to landing in the United States. The potential for Shannon is huge and while Europe Control report that there was a 6.6% reduction in Private Jet Traffic for 2009 compared to 2008, the forecast is for a 1.7% growth this year, with a growth of 3.2% predicted for 2011.”
“What is required now is a targeted marketing campaign to market this unique facility worldwide. A commitment of funding of around €200,000 annually for the next three years would assist the Shannon Airport Authority and Shannon Development to promote and develop this facility. Following the introduction of Open Skies, this Region was promised a €53million Tourism and Economic Plan, this was whittled down to €6million, we are not talking about major money here and it would be absolutely catastrophic if this huge opportunity for Shannon is squandered because of the lack of marketing funding.”