Minister of State and Clare T.D. Tony Killeen said last week that the establishment of US pre-clearance facilities would present Shannon Airport with a crucial competitive advantage over other European Airports. The Clare T.D. was commenting after Minister for Transport Mr Noel Dempsey, T.D. published the Aviation (Pre-clearance) Bill 2009, which will facilitate the new facilities at Shannon airport due to open in July this year. Flights from Shannon will be treated like domestic flights in the US. Passengers will have no need to undergo further time consuming checks in any US airport, unlike passengers arriving in the US from any other European state. The U.S. currently has no plans to introduce pre-clearance elsewhere in Europe, other than Dublin in 2010.
According to Minister Killeen: “When established next month, the full US Customs and Border Protection Inspection post will provide Shannon with a crucial competitive advantage over other European Airports when developing additional services. The provision of the new facilities has the potential to replace business lost due to the global economic downturn and the advent of open skies with its implications for transatlantic business at Shannon Airport. The facilities will also give airlines the opportunity to consolidate trans-Atlantic services to and from the airport with the expansion of existing services and the opening of new US routes”.
He noted that Transatlantic Airlines using Shannon and Dublin would be able to fly into less congested and less expensive domestic terminals on arrival at U.S airports. “This should lead to easier access to aircraft stands thereby minimising the time between touchdown and passengers exiting the aircraft. Airlines will now also be able to offer passengers easily accessible onward connections,” Minister Killeen explained.
The Clare Deputy added that the pre-clearance facility would bring with it numerous benefits for Shannon Airport and the Mid West Region. He continued: “Pre-clearance will provide the opportunity to promote the Mid West region for high worth tourism from the U.S. with the strong selling point that on the return leg all U.S. clearance requirements would be dealt with before departure. Pre-clearance also has the potential to open up other economic benefits for the Midwest region particularly for firms dependent on the US market”.
Minister Killeen has also welcomed the news that pre-clearance will be introduced at Shannon for private U.S. bound aircraft. “Again Shannon will be the only airport in Europe to offer this service to private aircraft owners. Similar to the interest shown by commercial aviation, Shannon can expect a significant increase in private aircraft routing through Shannon to take advantage of pre-clearance,” Minister Killeen concluded.