Wednesday, 2 March 2022
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Work on a new National Aviation Policy (NAP) is expected to resume in 2022. While the principal goals and objectives of the NAP published in 2015 remain valid, much has changed in terms of the overall challenges for the aviation sector in Ireland with a heightened focus on environmental sustainability and of course recovery from the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The process of developing a new strategy for the sector will entail appropriate public consultation as well as close engagement with the aviation industry through the structures of the National Civil Aviation Development Forum.
58. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Ireland will seek to reach a deal with the United States of America in order that stringent compliant catering regulations on flights to America can be eased. [11843/22]
In 2018, the United States Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) introduced a pilot Agricultural Preclearance Test Program for compliant catering which allowed business jets fly directly from Shannon Airport to any US airport. The local inflight caterer in Shannon had been approved by US CBP to supply catering which was in compliance with US CBP and US import requirements. At the US arrival airport, it meant that there were no special requirements for disposal of the international food waste after the flight had been precleared in Shannon under the Agricultural Preclearance Test Program. Four flights were successfully tested under the programme which was then suspended for a review. From that point, the approval to recommence the program has rested with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and all the procedures have been in place for a recommencement of the program.
The Department of Transport has engaged with the Irish Agricultural Counsellor in Washington who met with representatives of the US Department of Homeland Security and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to stress the potential benefits of the compliant catering program and made efforts to advance its recommencement.
However, the USDA APHIS position is that currently, the safeguarding regulations do not allow the expansion of preclearance beyond the pilot compliant catering program that was conducted in 2018. Implementing this program would require a regulatory change and has other impacts that would need to be considered. The regulatory change required is complex and could take a considerable amount of time to conclude (potentially up to three years and beyond). If the regulatory change is made, it could not be made for Shannon Airport only.
The Irish side continues to work with the US side to seek to expand the number of airports in the US where business jets from Shannon can be precleared before arrival under the existing legal framework. Recently, a further four airports have been added to the approved list where business jets that are precleared in Shannon can fly directly into. This now brings the total number of accessible airports in the U.S to 249 today
The Department of Transport will continue to engage with the US side, including at the Preclearance Consultative Group meetings, with a view to continuing to expand the number of airports in the US where business jets can fly into having been precleared in Shannon Airport.