Thursday 29 September 2016

IAG will at least have breathing room to expand Aer Lingus

Published 03/06/2015 | 02:30

Dublin Airport handled 2.1 million transatlantic passengers last year, a figure which was 14pc higher than in 2013
Dublin Airport handled 2.1 million transatlantic passengers last year, a figure which was 14pc higher than in 2013

If IAG succeeds in buying Aer Lingus, it will have a number of years before any other European airports have US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities installed.

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The Department of Homeland Security said it takes two to three years from a formal expression of interest having been made, to final agreement being reached to have pre-clearance operations being established.

That's because the whole process involves putting inter-governmental agreements in place, aside from the installation of the necessary infrastructure to support the service.

The Department of Homeland Security has a plan in place to significantly expand its pre-clearance programme.

By 2024, it wants to have 33pc of all US-bound air travellers pre-cleared. It's a key plank of its efforts to prevent terrorists from making it to US soil.

Dublin Airport handled 2.1 million transatlantic passengers last year, a figure which was 14pc higher than in 2013. Most of those are travelling between Ireland and the US, although the airport also has a number of services to Canada.

David Holohan of Merrion Capital said that if IAG buys Aer Lingus, it will have sufficient time to expand the Irish airline's operations to the United States to counter any threat that could be posed by US pre-clearance facilities that might be installed at Manchester.

IAG boss Willie Walsh is eyeing four new services from Ireland to the US if he buys Aer Lingus. They include a relaunched service between Dublin and Los Angeles, as well as a new service to the US east coast, possibly to a city such as Philadelphia.

The United States opened its first pre-clearance facility in 1952 in Toronto. It now has 15 pre-clearance facilities in six countries.

More than 600 CBP officers and agriculture specialists work in foreign airports and process 16 million US-bound passengers every year.

Irish Independent

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