No Mention of US Military in Shannon Airport Report
It comes as little surprise that the latest financial report for Shannon Airport makes no mention of the US military use of the facility. The report tells us that the overall number of passengers in 2017 was 1,751 million, which means that the official number of US troop that passed through the airport, 60,968, represents 3.5% of its overall passenger business. But the company running one of the country's main airports couldn't possibly mention this massive ongoing breach of Irish neutrality.
Shannon Airport is one of the business units of the Shannon Group. This is a commercial semi-state company established in September 2014. The other business units are Shannon Heritage, the International Aviation Services Centre (IASC) and Shannon Commercial Enterprises DAC, trading as Shannon Commercial Properties. Together they are "focused on delivering economic benefits for the West of Ireland and the wider national economy" (from the Shannon Group website).
The Shannon Groups are also careful not to mention the US military business. While it takes pride in the airport achieving a marginal increase in passengers in 2017; a 25% passenger growth since 2013; the new Norwegian International Services; a 20% growth on transatlantic services for 2018; new Ryanair services announced in 2017; enhancement to the airport's Duty Free Shop, restaurant, departure gates and executive and transit lounges; and having Europe's first airport sensory room, its annual report announcement says nothing about the fact that it continues to provide daily logistical support for invasions, occupations and wars right across the Middle East.
There are two likely reasons for this. The first is that the US military business is of no significant economic value to the airport. The second is that Shannon Airport and the Shannon Group know there would be a public outcry, and probably a drop in passenger numbers, if the comings and goings of troops and weapons through Shannon was known.
A third likely reason is that the US Embassy have made it clear that there should be no mention of their presence at Shannon. And the airport authorities, government departments, and indeed the entire government (with the agreement of Fianna Fail) are willing accomplices in covering up Shannon's complicity in human rights abuse (particularly torture and kidnapping), the killing of civilians, the displacement of millions of people from their homes, and even war crimes.
We have repeatedly asked for financial information relating to this. The myth that the US military presence is of economic value to the region is continually trotted out by local politicians and others, but no evidence of this has ever been provided. What we do know is that US military use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace costs the Irish state in excess of four million euro a year. This is a combination of Garda policing arrangements at the airport, the use of the Defence Forces to provide additional security for military planes, and air traffic subsidies to the US military. When once-off equipment costs such as special security fencing are taken into account the figure is likely to be much higher.
The company responsible for the day-to-day management of Shannon Airport as well as the major commercial activities at the airport is the Shannon Airport Authority DAC (SAA). Their contact details are here.
The Shannon Group is led by chairperson Rose Hynes and CEO Matthew Thomas. Contact details here.
Why not take a few minutes to contact them all? Ask for an explanation of why they continue to allow the US military to use Shannon Airport given the human cost of the wars they are involved in, and for information about the financial, safety, security and other implications of having US soldiers, weapons and planes at the airport.
And if you get a reply let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.