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US preclearance at Dublin and Shannon to be beefed up ahead of the summer

Dublin and Shannon are currently the only preclearance locations in Europe.

Image: Shutterstock/TTstudio

MORE PERSONNEL AND resources for US preclearance at Dublin and Shannon Airports has been approved by Cabinet today. 

US Preclearance facilitates passengers of US-bound flights from Dublin and Shannon Airports to fully clear all US controls before leaving Ireland.

Dublin and Shannon are currently the only preclearance locations in Europe, where 1.7 million passengers availed of the service in 2017.

Due to increasing numbers, additional staff and capacity is now required to allow growth to continue.

The costs of the expansion of resources for the preclearance services will be funded by Irish airports, and not the Exchequer.

It was also agreed with the United States that it will absorb some of the actual cost of assigning an additional officer to Ireland.

US authorities will also continue to fund a baseline level of service, on a par with that which is offered at present.

The amounts to be paid will be set out in Memoranda of Understanding between Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and each airport.

While Shannon Airport does not require additional officers, some flexibilities regarding rostering and overtime arrangements where the service is required outside of the standard opening hours is needed. 

Airlines could face increased charges arising from these costs, but this will be a matter for the airports. 

Costs for passengers are not envisaged to rise due to these changes. 

The extra cost when spread over the 1.4 million passengers who used the Preclearance facilities in Dublin 2017 does not equate to a substantial extra charge per passenger, and due to the growth in passengers using the services, any additional cost is set to be offset. 

No additional powers to US officials

The changes to the agreement following detailed negotiations between Irish and US officials, and does not change the operation of preclearance in Ireland. It also does not give any additional powers to US officials working at Irish airports.

shutterstock_518590279 Source: Shutterstock/EQRoy

The preclearance facilities at each airport are within Irish jurisdiction and the laws of Ireland apply at all times.

CBP officers are not equipped with firearms or any other offensive weapons and they are not considered to be law enforcement officers in Ireland.

“This is a good deal for airports and airlines and for the travelling public with whom preclearance has been enormously popular. The additional costs will be borne by those benefitting from the enhanced services and will not be a charge on the Exchequer,” said Ross. 

The transport minister said US Preclearance is a “valuable asset for Ireland”, allowing people move more easily between Ireland and the USA, and “enhancing the long and unique relationship between the two countries”. 

Ross said his department has been engaging with the US since 2015 on the need to enhance and expand services and introduce flexibilities to the preclearance service in Ireland.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD said US Preclearance is a major asset for Irish travellers and a big draw for airlines to route tens of thousands of passengers through our airports every year.

“We are one of the very few countries to have it, so seeing the system expand in Dublin and Shannon is a very welcome development,” he said. 

Dublin Airport is the sixth largest airport in Europe for flight connections to North America with the number of flights to and from the US up 14% last year. 

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