Stop Movement Orders Not in Operation at Shannon
As the realities of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic began to become clearer, we found out on March 25th that US military personnel passing through Shannon Airport on their way to and from the US, Middle East and Europe were instructed not to get off their aircraft after landing at the airport. See Irish Examiner report quoting Shannonwatch spokesperson Edward Horgan who pointed out that Ireland was at the time justifiably almost in lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus yet hundreds of US soldiers travelling from affected areas in the Middle East, Europe and the USA were landing at Shannon airport.
Also on March 25th US Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a stop movement order to the US military halting travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus through the ranks, according to Reuters. The purpose was to make sure that they were not bringing the virus back home, infecting others, and that they were not spreading it around the military, Esper said.
He didn't appear to care in the least about spreading it at Shannon other parts of the world. But we do. Yet another reason for ending the US military use of our airport.
The folowing day we heard that exceptions to the stop movement order "may be granted on a case-by-case scenario where travel is deemed mission essential, humanitarian in nature or warranted due to extreme hardship" (see Newsweek report).
For the remainder of March Shannon was honoured with some of those "exceptions", as US troop carriers continued to land despite the announced halt on US military travel. There were fewer of them, but we still had US troops transiting through Shannon.
In April the military traffic through Shannon appeared to finally end. From the first to the 9th we recorded no US military or military contracted planes landing. But that changed on April 10th when the temporary lull in the US military use of Shannon ended. Omni Air N819AX arrived from Kuwait with a stop over at Sofia, Bulgaria, and most likely had US troops on board. These were probably collected from several other Middle East countries, all of which have significant number of cases of coronavirus.
We don't know if the US troops on board this Omni Air aircraft were allowed into the Shannon Airport terminal building, as any US assurances on matters like this are of very limited value.
And on April 11th Omni Air Boeing N846AX landed, propably with a plane load of US troops. This one came from Al Dhafra Air Base in United Arab Emirates, again with a short stop over in Sofia Bulgaria.
Are our interim, rejected Government requesting or just approving these landings? Either way they would seem unnecessary from an aviation point of view. And they are inconsistent with the national efforts to reduce the risks of coronavirus spread.
Surely in these times of national emergency, our leaders could make one simple, pragmatic decision and say NO to the landing of foreign troops at Shannon Airport. Facilitating the movement of troops half way across the world to invade and occupy other countries is never a good practice. Now more than ever it's an abuse of common sense, as well as international law, that we can do without.