Troops boost Shannon airport income


US TROOP traffic going through Shannon airport is the only growth area at the airport this year with 130,922 soldiers passing through in the first six months.

The number of US troops going through Shannon between January and the end of June stood at 130,922 on 991 flights – an increase of 4.8 per cent on the corresponding period last year.

The figures show that 63,996 US troops passed between March and the end of June.

The profits from the troop movements this year are estimated to have earned the cash-strapped Shannon Airport Authority €3.5 million for the first six months this year.

The airport’s overall traffic for the first six months of the year is down 7 per cent to 1.4 million with commercial transatlantic traffic down 19 per cent and European traffic down 3 per cent.

Outspoken critic of US troops using Shannon, Dr Ed Horgan said yesterday: “What is going on at Shannon is wrong and it would seem that the increased numbers of troops going through is connected to the US sending through additional troops to Afghanistan.”

Dr Horgan said that “if Shannon is relying more and more on military traffic, then it is doomed”.

He added: “We will continue to protest at the use of Shannon by the US military and the local support for our stance is increasing.”

In the years 2005 to 2008, the authority recorded an estimated €30 million in profits. The number of troops using the airport since the two US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has now exceeded 1.35 million.

In the past three years, the State has spent almost €10 million in paying Garda and Army personnel to provide security at Shannon airport.

Recent figures from Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern show that the State has spent €8.6 million on policing at Shannon airport, while the Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea has confirmed that the Army has been paid €964,702 to patrol the airport over the past three years.

Mr Ahern said €4.8 million had been paid in salaries during the period with an additional €2.7 million paid in overtime.

A further €1 million was spent paying travel and subsistence expenses.