Breen makes a strong case for Shannon to Saudi Arabian Delegation.

June 4th, 2010 - Pat Breen

100525_j1_180-mxsFine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen made a strong case for Shannon Airport and highlighted the benefits that the US Customs Pre Clearance facilities presents for Saudi Arabian aircraft en route from the Middle East to the United States when he met with a delegation of members of the Shura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when they visited Dail Eireann. The Members of the Shura Council are on a fact finding mission to Ireland and are led by Dr. Mazen A. Balihah. Shura Council is the legislature of Saudi Arabia, it has 150 members that are appointed by the king, six of which are women.

“The visit of Members of the Shura Council to Ireland is an opportunity for both countries to build and develop our bilateral trade. In 2009, Saudi Arabia was Ireland’s 33rd largest merchandise trading partner with merchandise trade worth €403 million. The ban on Irish beef and beef products was lifted in August 2008 and Irish suppliers are currently negotiating with local purchasers about bringing Irish beef back into the market and this would be a very welcome boost for Irish farmers. As well as increased economic activity between both countries strong education and cultural links are being forged. For example a number of Irish Third level institutions are destinations for the prestigious Kind Abdullah Scholarship Programme (KASP) and there is an active Irish community in Saudi Arabia with around 1,500 Irish nations living there and recently the Riyadh GAA Club has been reactivated such is the interest in playing hurling and football over there.”

“While many European Airlines have experienced a decline in passenger traffic due to the economic recession, airline traffic in Saudi Arabia actually rose by five percent and it is expected that demand for aircraft of all types and sizes, both commercial and corporate will increase significantly over the next two decades. Airbus sold 80 corporate jets in the Middle East last year, the majority of them to Saudi Arabia, which is also the biggest market for wide-bodied jets.”

“The growth in airline traffic in the Middle East presents opportunities for Shannon Airport particularly when it is the World’s only Airport where full US Pre Clearance facilities are available for Corporate Jets. Availing of this facility would allow passengers travelling from Saudi Arabia to stop of in Shannon, pre-clear all the formalities for US Immigration, Customs and Agriculture and then fly on the United States and land and use domestic terminals on arrival thereby reducing costs and avoiding congestion. Of course, the same applies for Commercial Aircraft should they chose to transit at Shannon Airport and use the pre-clearance facilities. Indeed, I am aware that Members of the Royal Family have often used Shannon Airport as a transit stop when they are travelling to the United States. ”

“Yesterday afternoon I presented the delegation with a fact file of all that Shannon Airport has to offer the airline industry in Saudi Arabia. I pointed out the benefits of the Pre Clearance facility and I encouraged them to forge and develop new routing opportunities for their Airlines and to build greater economic ties with the Mid-West Region.”

“While we are out there promoting this facility and if Shannon Airport is to fully benefit from the opportunities which the availability of the Pre Clearance at the Airport presents, then the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey must remedy the situation in consultation with the US Department of Homeland Security where Part 135 Aircraft are currently prohibited from using the facility. Otherwise, all of our efforts will be in vain.”