Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties) today commended U.S. and Irish officials for signing an agreement making Shannon and Dublin the first U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pre-clearance airports in Europe.
Since 1986, pursuant to an original agreement between the two countries, passengers on commercial flights bound for the United States underwent immigration inspections at Shannon and Dublin. The new agreement is broader and includes customs, immigration and agricultural screening, as well as screening aircraft for radiological and nuclear threats.
Full pre-screening operations are planned to begin in Shannon in 2009 and in Dublin in 2010. When implemented, passengers and crew on all U.S.-bound commercial and private aircraft from Shannon and Dublin will be pre-cleared prior to departure.
"This is a major step toward improving security on U.S.-bound aircraft," said Gallegly, who worked with the Department of Homeland Security and Shannon officials on converting Shannon into a pre-clearance airport when he chaired the Subcommittee on Europe. "Instead of screening for potential terrorists once an aircraft lands on U.S. soil, all passengers and crew will be screened prior to takeoff."
In addition, commercial airline passengers who have undergone pre-clearance will experience faster domestic and international connections within the United States by having their checked luggage automatically transferred between flights. All passengers should experience less congestion at U.S. international airports because passengers from Shannon and Dublin will not undergo additional screening upon arrival in the United States.
Private aircraft flying through Ireland will also benefit. If the aircraft is pre-cleared at a CBP facility, it may fly to any airport in the United States without having to stop at a pre-designated Airport of Entry.