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Shannon - The 51st State
Pre-clearance procedures for US available in Ireland.

Shannon Airport- situated on the west coast of Ireland is to offer a unique and fast no-hassle gateway for travelers flying to the United States. Business aviation passengers can take advantage of this from September. On July 29th Shannon’s first commercial airline passengers sampled this new hassle free pre-clearance program.

It follows two years of negotiations between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Ireland’s Transportation Ministry to introduce what is the only full passenger and air crew pre-clearance procedure on that side of the Atlantic. The U.S. border is effectively at Shannon Airport- staffed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel- it could be said effectively making Shannon the 51st State of the Union!

An original pre-clearance agreement dating from 1986 was limited to the immigration inspection of commercial flights only- and didn’t apply to business and general aviation- or customs and agriculture clearances. The new agreement includes all these departments- plus the screening of aircraft for radiological and nuclear threats.

Under the new rules- once pre-cleared- business aircraft and commercial airliners will be regarded as domestic arrivals and can fly direct to any airport within the U.S. The advantage for the U.S. is that it moves the screening of air passengers overseas. The result is that the entry process into the U.S. is more secure and efficient- says the Department for Homeland Security.

Pre-clearance for general aviation aircraft will only take place at Shannon- but Dublin will be added to the commercial airline scheme in 2010. Shannon Airport’s Cargo and Technical Traffic Development Manager Joe Buckley says that €20 million has been spent on new buildings and modifications to house the new operations. Shannon’s current business aviation movements are around 4-000 per year- but he expects this to double- or even treble as more companies are attracted to the advantages of the pre-clearance scheme.

“Based on the enquiries we’re getting it’s going to be a significant increase- that’s for sure-” Buckley predicted. He revealed his phone has been ringing “off the hook” from interested parties in the U.S. and the Middle East- as word of the pre-clearance scheme has spread. Many mid-European-based operators are also showing interest in using Shannon as a refueling/pre-clearance stop giving them greater direct reach into the mid- and western-U.S.

“Shannon is open 24/7 including Christmas Day- there are no congestion or slot restrictions here-” Buckley said. Shannon’s FBOs will send U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) their electronic manifest data regarding all people traveling on the aircraft- and this will include advance notice of arrival information; advance notice of departure; aircraft identification; and a complete passenger and crew manifest filed through eAPIS or an approved alterative.

“Passengers will have no need to undergo further time consuming checks in any U.S. airport- unlike passengers arriving in the U.S. from any other European State-” emphasized Buckley.

The pre-clearance idea was sold to British Airways executives over a year ago- and it plans to start operating business only passenger flights from London City Airport to New York via Shannon later this year.

More information from www.shannonairport.com

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