US CBP clearance at Shannon for westbound bizjets to commence "in coming weeks".
Ever since full US customs and Border Protection clearance was introduced at Shannon for commercial flights in August of last year the big question has been when would the facility be extended to business aircraft ? A significant number of westbound bizjets have fuel stopped at Shannon for many years but their arrival point on US soil after departure from Shannon has been dictated by the level of USCBP available on arrival. Effectively the airports to which aircraft could fly to from Shannon has been restricted to those that currently offer full clearance. The introduction of full clearance at Shannon allows aircraft to depart Ireland as domestic flights with unrestricted (from a USCBP point of view) destinations in the USA. Since August of last year there have been many false starts for business aircraft clearance at Shannon but yesterday Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey announced that the way had been cleared for the clearance of business jet aircraft at Shannon "in the coming weeks". It is understood that the matter of food handling had been one of the stumbling blocks to be overcome in the introduction of full clearance since food on inbound aircraft would have to be disposed of and replaced by "cleared" catering for the trans Atlantic leg. The statement from Minister Dempsey does not indicate the availability of full USCBP clearance at Shannon for business aircraft. After all the bluster following the establishment of the facility, the cold reality of "Catch 22" dawned once it was realised that a round the clock manning level would be provided once round the clock demand manifested itself. Since its introduction, the facility which charges €10 per passenger cleared, has been operational on a single shift basis from 7am to 2pm. Continental Airlines is the only scheduled operator to currently avail of the facility. Aer Lingus has refused to use the facility at Shannon for "operational" reasons, preferring instead to wait until clearance is extended to Dublin after the opening of T2.