Transport officials are looking to extend US pre-clearance at Irish airports in response to losing exclusivity on the much sought-after service to other European airports in the coming years.
The US Department of Homeland Security last year said it was entering into negotiations with 10 foreign airports with a view to extending the coveted pre-clearance facilities to other countries in the coming years.
London’s Heathrow and Manchester Airports are among those currently in negotiations to secure US pre-clearance which allows passengers travelling to the US to complete all necessary immigration and customs inspections before arrival, saving travellers up to two hours on the other side of the Atlantic.
US officials indicated last month the service could be rolled out in UK airports in the next five years.
The facility, currently in operation in Shannon and Dublin airports as well as Abu Dhabi, the Bahamas, and several Canadian airports, is seen as critical to the Irish airports’ claims of being transatlantic hubs.
In response to the likelihood the service will be rolled out elsewhere in Europe, Department of Transport officials are looking to expand the offerings in Shannon and Dublin to retain the Irish airports’ competitive advantage.
Former transport minister Paschal Dono hoe wrote to US Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson in order to open negotiations “in relation to establishing a framework for securing enhanced services in the longer term”.
It is unclear which additional services are being sought.
According to ministerial briefing notes supplied to Mr Donohoe’s successor, Shane Ross, the US side responded to the letter advising it was moving through its own internal procedures to allow it to enter negotiations.
The briefing notes also warn that additional resources will be needed to ensure the pre-clearance system continues to work adequately at Shannon and Dublin.
A spokesperson said that while there are no immediate resource concerns, the department considers it “prudent to plan for future growth and any additional resources that may be needed”.
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