Shannon Chamber Seeks Clarity on Decision to Transfer Border Custom Post Controls for agri-food and related products from Shannon to Dublin Airport

Shannon Chamber is seeking clarity from the Department of Agriculture on why agri-food and related products arriving from non-EU countries into Dublin Airport but destined for Shannon must now undergo Border Custom Post (BCP) Controls at Dublin Airport rather than at Shannon Airport as had been the practice for decades.

This change, which came into effect in September 2022, replaces an existing practice, which has been in-situ since Ireland became a member of the European Union. Heretofore, goods entering Dublin Airport but destined for Shannon were transported to Shannon via ‘flying trucks’, a term used in the logistics industry whereby a truck retains a flight number and the pallets contained therein are road freighted to the respective BCP for clearance. This meant that all air freight landing in Dublin but destined for Shannon was, in essence, ‘air trucked’ by airlines who do not operate wide-bodied aircraft out of Shannon.

In a recent meeting with the Department of Agriculture and attended by local elected representatives and logistics sector representatives, the Chamber requested further explanation and clarification on why this change has been introduced in Ireland, when ‘flying trucks’, which are considered part of transhipment, continue to operate throughout the EU, but are now regarded as illegal in Ireland.

The Chamber has requested a follow-up meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, clarification on areas of legislation on which the changes have been made, and that the decision, which is totally at odds with the Government’s commitment to balanced regional development and to reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions, be reversed.

As Shannon Chamber president explains: “Shannon has always been regarded as the first point of entry to Ireland for cargo entering the EU through Dublin Airport, Frankfurt or, before Brexit, Heathrow, and transported to Shannon Airport in sealed, bonded containers for customs and agricultural inspections, before being delivered to businesses in the Mid-West.

“If cargo arrives in Shannon now, regardless of the fact that it is in sealed containers, it must be transported back to Dublin Airport for agricultural inspection, even though there is a fully operational inspection centre in Shannon Airport. The goods then have to be transported back to the customer in the Mid-West. This is totally at odds with what is happening in other EU countries, hence our requesting full clarification on why the change was introduced, by whom, and on what basis.

“We have asked Department of Agriculture officials to refer our questions re the legislation on which this change is stated to be based, to the European Commission for clarification, and we look forward to receiving a speedy response to our request.

“The changes are already impacting businesses and the Mid-West through adding financial cost and incurring time delays in getting product delivered to companies, most particularly pharmaceutical companies in the region.

“This unnecessary move to disband a hitherto satisfactory arrangement comes at a time when businesses of all sizes are already experiencing major pressures. It will have an impact on companies thinking of locating in the region. For many pharma inputs, research materials, laboratory samples and other imports, it will no longer be possible to BCP process them at Shannon; the real danger is that prospective investors will decide to locate elsewhere, perhaps in the vicinity of Dublin, due to the absence of these key facilities locally.

“All these implications point to this move being completely at variance with the Government’s stated policy of balanced regional development. It makes no sense for the Department to downgrade and undermine a perfectly viable and successful facility that is offering a cost-effective service to numerous industries in the Shannon region and west of Ireland. To compound this situation, the change has the effect of further centralising key import/export services in the capital and at an airport that is already under pressure. In other words, it flies in the face of every stated Government objective to promote balanced regional growth throughout the country,” added Mr Gavin.