US Military Flights Costing Ireland Millions of Euro

  • Posted on: 24 July 2020
  • By: shannonwatch


Last month Darren O'Rourke TD (Sinn Fein) asked the new Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport, Eamon Ryan to outline the position regarding air traffic control fees for military flights using Irish airspace and airports. Like us, he wanted to know if fees are waived for military aircraft, and if so, what the cost of the waived fees has been over the years.

The Green Minister explained in his response that

The practice of exempting en-route charges for certain specified classes of airspace users, including military aircraft, derives from the exclusion of State aircraft from the scope of the 1944 Chicago Convention establishing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). While the application of the exemption from charges is at the discretion of the State concerned, the policy and general practice at international level is to exempt such flights from charges.  Ireland, in common with the vast majority of Eurocontrol's 41 member states, subscribes to this practice.

In other words, foreign military aircraft do not pay air traffic control charges as they overfly or land in Ireland. And that includes US military aircraft.

The exemption of US military flights from charges was also confirmed by the then Minister of State for Transport, Ivor Callely, in 2005. He explained at the time that Ireland exempts military flights of member states of Eurocontrol, the United States and Canada from payment of the "en route charge" and that this arrangement has applied since Ireland joined the Eurocontrol en route charging scheme in the early 1970s.

Minister Ryan explained that the cost incurred by the Irish Aviation Authority in providing exempt en-route services for military and other flights is reimbursed by his DepartmATC_Costs.pngent. In other words the Irish state pays.

In answer to the question he was asked regarding the exact cost per year to the state of the waived charges he said "the breakdown of the amounts reimbursed for military flights is not held by my Department". But he did provide the aggregate figures for exempt services payments to the Irish Aviation Authority since 2010.

From previous research on this subject we have records of the costs from 2003 up to 2010. We have combined the figures in the table shown.

The total amount for the exempt services payments is a staggering 46 million euro since 2003. And most of this is made up of US military traffic.

While the agreement to exempt the en-route charges for these flights is a reciprocal agreement, there is very little benefit accruing to Ireland. Such agreements are highly advantageous to countries like the US that have very large armies and air forces, while being of virtually no benefit to countries like Ireland whose miniscule number of military aircraft rarely travel to the US (except for the Government executive jet). By waiving US military charges, Ireland is losing a substantial amount of fees that should be paid by the US military.

As well as costing lives throughout the world, our support for US warmongering is also costing us money.