Irish Times April 11th. 2008
http://www.ireland. com/newspaper/ ireland/2008/ 0411/12078432914 13.html
Nearly 67,000 U.S. Troops Passed Through Shannon in January March 08
The numbers of U.S. troops going through Shannon airport in the first quarter of this year increased by almost 150% on the corresponding period last year.
Figures released by Shannon Airport Authority yesterday show that 66,667 U.S.S troops on 495 flights passed the airport between January and March – an increase of 144% on the 27,070 troops that used the airport’s facilities for the same period last year.
The figures show that 21,019 troop went through in March; 18,830 in February and 26,828 in January. If current troop levels are maintained for the remainder of 2008, Shannon Airport looks on course to exceed last year’s total of 262,816 troops.
Troop levels going through Shannon dropped through first half of last year, however, this trend was reversed after U.S. troop carrier Omni Air significantly increased the number of aircraft going through Shannon to 100 a month.
Another of the carriers that moves troops through Shannon, American Transair (ATA) was declared bankruptcy last week and ceased operations immediately. its demise is expected to have minimal effect on the numbers of U.S. troops going through Shannon.
A spokesman for the Shannon Airport Authority said yesterday: “The authority regrets thee difficulties ATA finds itself in as th airport had a long relationship with ATA that dates back to the 1980’s through charter flights and transit flights.”
It is understood the percentage of U.S. troops which Transair moved through Shannon was low and any money that might be owed to the authority as a result of its bankruptcy is also low.
Last year, the number of U.S. troops using Shannon as a stop-off passed the one million mark since the war started on.
The authority does not release the profits made from the U.S. troop traffic, but it is estimated it made 7 million euro last year through the troop business. This follows
an estimated profit of 16.4 million euro from the troop traffic in 2006 and 2005.
Last December, Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan confirmed that that 7 million euro had been spent on preventing incursions to Shannon Airport from anti-war activists over the past two years. He said 4.69 million euro was spent on policing arrangements at Shannon last year.
Reflection on this State of Affairs
by Ciaron O’Reilly