Minister for transport Noel Dempsey is to introduce new legislation in the D_il that will allow U.S.-bound passengers to undertake all necessary inspections, including immigration and customs, prior to their departure to the United States.
He is also pressing for the new services to come into operation by July this year.
“This summer, Shannon will be the first European airport to offer these facilities and the potential is enormous as passengers will benefit from uninterrupted passage through U.S. airports on arrival, saving time and hassle,” said Mr. Dempsey.
“Transatlantic airlines will also benefit from being able to fly from Shannon into un-congested and less expensive airports in the U.S,” he said.
In effect, the legislation being introduced by Dempsey in the Air Navigation Bill will give Shannon the same status as a U.S. domestic airport.
The bill will also pave the way for Dublin to become a full pre-clearance facility once the new Terminal 2 at Dublin airport is opened next year.
Because full pre-clearance will take place in Shannon, it opens up the possibilities of direct flights between Ireland and smaller airports in the U.S. such as La Guardia in New York and Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C.
According to a department spokeswoman, Minister Dempsey has been “pushing hard” to help Shannon get its designation in place by the summer.
The air bill, the spokeswoman indicated, is on the “A list” of priority legislation for the forthcoming D_il term.
The move follows the signing last November of an inter-governmental agreement with the then U.S. secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff.
Following the announcement of the upgrading of Shannon, British Airways announced it was considering a business class service from London City airport to the U.S. with a stopover at the County Clare airport.
Dempsey’s department has said it is confident that other airlines may follow the example of British Airways.