Shannon, Ireland: 2023 Business Aviation Destination Guide

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Shannon Airport (EINN) is known as one of the best tech stops in Europe due to its ease of operation, low fuel prices, availability of pre-clearance to the United States, and no value-added taxes. Here’s everything you need to know about operating to Shannon.


Airport Options

Shannon is the primary business aviation airport for Western Ireland. EINN is located 14 miles from the nearest major town, Limerick. The present condition of the tarmac, taxiways and runways is good, and there’s no airport construction currently underway. While hangars are available for transient business aircraft, space is limited, with availability on a first-come basis. Scheduled commercial operations are minimal at EINN and generally don’t impact GA. Peak hours of scheduled airline activity are usually 0630-1000 local.


Shannon Operating Hours

Shannon is open 24/7 with 24/7 Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ). There are currently no Stage 2 noise restrictions, no airport slots are required, and the runway is the second longest in Europe.


PPR

PPR is not required at Shannon.


Slots

Slots are not required at Shannon.


Parking

There are no restrictions on the length of stay at many airports in Ireland. Still, separate aircraft parking areas are assigned based on aircraft weight. Therefore, it’s rare that aircraft will need to be relocated on the field, but crew members will always be notified before an aircraft is being moved. Parking fees are calculated in 30-minute blocks for aircraft up to the size of a Bombardier Global 6000 or Gulfstream G550. No aircraft parking charges are applicable 2300-0600 local. Larger aircraft park in a different area and charges are higher.


Handling & Equipment

Shannon is an easy destination for ground handling service availability and set up for business aviation operators. Landing permit requirements and operating restrictions are minimal, a full range of 4th-party services is available, and costs are competitive for ground handling and airport charges.

While best practice is to provide 24 hours notice for ground handling services, short-notice arrivals are possible with the assistance of your local ground handler. There are multiple handling options at Shannon. Ground handlers will be happy to provide cost quotes to help you better refine operating options.

Universal Aviation Ireland has had a presence in Shannon for more than 20 years. On the day of operation, the ground handler will need your full schedule, tail number, aircraft type, type of flight, and – for transit stops and/or overnight stays, we are required to provide a General Declaration with all crew and pax details in advance of arrival.

Shannon does require arrival/departure cards for crew or passengers. For overnight stops, the ground handler provides a general declaration in advance. Passengers are not required to fill out forms/cards on landing. Your ground handler should be given as much advance notification as possible. Still, services can usually be set up with just a few hours’ notice. Very little notice is needed for schedule or manifest changes.

The Irish Aviation Authority may ramp-check an aircraft at any time, but that generally requires only a few minutes and does not impact passengers. After receiving a handling request – either via email phone – your ground handler will contact airport authorities and provide aircraft information and schedule.


Fuel

A fuel release or fuel card is required for fuel uplifts at Shannon. Payment by Credit card is not accepted. Arrangements for aircraft fuel uplift and services will be set up as needed


Ground Handling Fees

The ground handling fee will depend on the size of the aircraft. You’ll also pay landing fees for arrival and departure, aircraft parking fees, and departure taxes for any passenger staying overnight. Landing fees are standard for all aircraft, regardless of size. Estimated invoices for ground handling and associated government fees can be generated at the operator’s request.


Equipment

At Shannon, towing is typically not required for small or midsized aircraft, as parking is done via self-maneuvering (power on/power off). However, for aircraft the size of a BBJ or larger, towbars are available when required. The preferred means of communication with ground handlers is via email unless it’s an emergency or short-notice request.


FBOs and Hangarage

While hangars are available for transient business aircraft, space is limited, with availability on a first-come basis.


Hotels

Many good hotel options are available in the Shannon area. Accommodation options in Shannon range from B&Bs to castles. When staying overnight at Shannon, for example, you have a choice of local hotels or the 5-star Dromoland castle, or you can go to the closest town, Limerick, to find international hotel chain accommodations. Hotels in Ireland are typically less expensive than comparable accommodations at many other locations in Europe.

Adare Manor is another 5-star option, recently voted No. 1 Resort in the world by Conde Nast, that will host the 2027 Ryder Cup.

Universal Aviation Shannon will often be able to find you better rates and terms than if you book accommodations via travel websites. For example, it may be possible to arrange early check-in/check-out at no cost or lower cost and have the hotel include extras such as breakfast and Internet. You also may be able to obtain more flexible cancellation policies when working with your ground handler and/or 3rd-party provider. Plus, you will still earn points and credit towards elite status if you are booking with a major hotel chain. Finally, suppose there is an issue with a hotel booking. In that case, your local handler will have better negotiation power than a consumer website due to their established hotel relationships.


Ground Transportation

No third -party transportation is permitted to now enter the ramp. This is only allowed in exceptional circumstances on request with the Airport Authority.

According to EU regulation, there’s no requirement for departure screening or passport control for departing aircraft under MTOW of 45 tons. Pre-paid transportation (car and driver) is the preferred local transport option. Still, taxi services are good, and rental car facilities are available at all major airports in Ireland.

Rental cars may be advantageous for more extended stays in Ireland but are not ideal for crews on shorter stays. Keep in mind that while primary roads in Ireland are good, secondary roads can be very narrow, and you’ll be driving on the left side of the road. Roads are well marked, and a GPS isn’t really needed.

Be sure to take out full rental car insurance coverage. In Ireland, a “standard” rental car is the equivalent to a sub-compact in the US, and you’ll usually be given a standard shift, unless you specify automatic transmission.

For shorter stays, pre-paid transport (car with driver) is often the best option and can be arranged via your ground handler. You can get a free quote for ground transportation through Universal-Drivania Chauffeurs.


Fuel

Jet fuel prices in Ireland – particularly in Shannon (EINN) – are among the lowest in Europe.

Service levels for fuel and additional services are excellent, and availability is good. Best practice is to take the time to confirm fuel uplifts, as well as 4th-party vendor services, 24 hours before your estimated time of arrival (ETA).

EINN is the only airport in Ireland with hydrant fuel, which is available 24/7. Large aircraft are automatically given the hydrant option. However, airport authorities prefer that smaller aircraft not use hydrant fuel, as using it will occupy stands for larger aircraft. Truck (aka “bowser”) and hydrant (aka “pod”) fuel price options are more or less the same. Quick turns – wheels down to wheels up – are possible in Ireland within 45 minutes. No AVGAS or Prist fuel additives are available at EINN. If you require Prist at EINN, you’ll need to bring it with you and add it yourself.


Catering

Shannon has on-airport in-flight catering options with catering menus available. Approved airport in-flight caterers have access to the air side, while other catering – from hotels and restaurants – can be dropped off with your ground handler and delivered to your aircraft. Liquid limitations of 100 ml for security do not apply to delivery of catering or food items. You can check the free Air Culinaire Worldwide Menu app to see catering options and menus available.


Security

EINN has a two-meter-high perimeter fence, radar ground movement detection systems, high-definition surveillance cameras, perimeter patrols every 60 minutes and airport police on patrol 24/7. Private security is permitted on the ramp, so long as the provider is pre-approved and unarmed. There’s a private security company available to guard aircraft at the client’s request, and they carry appropriate identification. Protection of government aircraft can be arranged with the local police or the Irish army. Personal security – either on- or off-airport – is not recommended for crew members or passengers, as there aren’t any security concerns.


Ramp Access

Crew with crew IDs may access the ramp with a ground handler escort. Anyone else entering the ramp needs either a color-coded airport ID (not all airport IDs in Ireland allow airside access) or a temporary airport ID to enter under escort. For example, a temporary ID may be obtained for an aviation maintenance technician or pre-paid transport with driver. This takes about 24 hours to set up and requires presentation of passport or driver’s license to airport authorities, along with a letter from the ground handler stating the reason for ramp access.


Customs

While customs will be notified of your arrival, you’ll not be required to clear customs or offload luggage.

Visas are not necessary for U.S. crew or passengers on international tech stops. Check with your visa provider, ground handler or 3rd-party provider regarding visa requirements for non-U.S. nationals.


USCBP Pre-Clearance

A typical pre-clearance turnaround with aircraft services i.e. fuel uplift will take no more than 45-60 minutes from landing to take off. Luggage is no longer required to be taken to the terminal for screening. The USCBP officer will screen baggage on board and will require access to the baggage hold.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pre-clearance of GA aircraft has been available at EINN since 2010. Originally, this service was only possible for private non-revenue flights, but in 2011 pre-clearance for charter (non-scheduled commercial) was also made available. Pre-clearance requirements and lead times are now the same for both private non-revenue and charter flights. Be aware that CBP pre-clearance at EINN is not available for cargo, government, diplomatic, and/or military flights. After you clear at EINN, there are approximately 200 airports in the U.S. to which you may operate. Our blog article has more on Shannon pre-clearance.

If an aircraft wishes to pre-clear USCBP here in Shannon, a booking form needs to be fully completed by the operator/team and returned to their handler before the handler can even contact USCBP in Shannon. Once received, we will then make the booking on behalf of the operator, and approval will be granted soon after.

USCBP Shannon opening hours are as follows;

  • Everyday 0900 local – 1700 local
  • USCBP Out of hours/Overtime available on request between 0700 local –  0900 local and 1700 local – 2100 local. *Note there is an additional out of hours/overtime charge applied to these clearances

For all CBP bookings/clearances at Shannon, a minimum 24 hours notice period is required.

Presently, there are more than 200 airports of entry that operators can fly to having pre-cleared USCBP at Shannon – see attached list for your reference.

The process for USCBP clearances, once an appointment with CBP has been confirmed, is as follows;

  1. The CBP Appointment time will be booked for 30 mins after the scheduled arrival time, as USCBP does not want to clear until all services are complete.
  2. Aircraft arrives and is parked on stand.
  3. Crew can service and prepare the aircraft for departure prior to appointment time.
  4. All travelers have to be presented to the facility; Universal Aviation Ireland- Shannon will escort 2 crew via a VIP screening area before entering the CBP facility area. The one remaining crew member can stay on board to obtain the oceanic clearance and oversee fueling etc.
  5. The 2 crew will be processed by USCBP and, following this, will then, along with USCBP agents, be escorted back to the aircraft (The process from leaving the aircraft and returning to the aircraft usually takes 15 minutes)
  6. Once back at the aircraft, the USCBP agents will do their checks on the aircraft (internally & externally – decal/radiation check, etc.) Note – All baggage in the hold must be accessible. If it is not, we will then remove some outside for inspection before loading again.
  7. Whilst onboard, the USCBP agents will process the one remaining crew member or by being presented to the facility whilst the cleared crew board the aircraft.
  8. Once USCBP agents have completed their checks (usually lasts 5 – 10 minutes), the last crew member, after clearing, can reboard the aircraft if he or she hasn’t been cleared on board. Once doors are closed, CBP will depart the area and the aircraft will depart.
  9. CBP agents will then send via email a formal notification to the CBP port of entry, US CBP authorities, Captain, Operator, and ourselves advising that the aircraft has been pre-cleared in Shannon
  10. Aircraft arrives in the US at its port of entry and is met by an Agriculture official to remove any international waste.

Please note – A typical turnaround for an aircraft uplifting fuel and clearing US customs will only take 45 / 60  minutes from when the aircraft arrives.


Vat Refunds

Regarding VAT refunds please note the following;

Any receipt or voucher, with the value being under €2000.00 for each individual item on the receipt/voucher, can be taken to be stamped & posted by a Universal agent, with no need for the item to be physically inspected.

Any receipt or voucher, with any individual items being €2,000 or over each, the goods must be presented to Customs, along with receipt/voucher before any VAT refund will be approved.

Customs require 24 hours’ notice if a passenger has an item over the value of 2000 euros particularly if the passenger is arriving on an a/c that is operating into EINN out of hours and there is no customs officer on site. Irish Customs will always have an agent on call 24/7 but if they do NOT receive the required notice they may not be able to inspect the goods. IF Passengers who have items over the value of 2000 euros will not receive vat refund if those items are not inspected.


Tech Stops

Tech stop turns at EINN – are quick and normally under 45 minutes. While there are no CIQ requirements for crew members or passengers during tech stops in Ireland, security screening will be required if crew members or passengers choose to enter the terminal during a tech stop.


Weather

Weather issues seldom impact operations at airports in Ireland. In fact, Shannon (EINN) has one of the best records in Europe for the least weather-related airport closures. The climate is generally moderate in Ireland, with very rare incidences of airport snow or ice buildup. De-icing may be required during the period from late November to early February. Cross winds at EINN are seldom problematic, and it’s rare that an aircraft will have to circle due to local weather or wind issues.


Conclusion

Shannon is strategically located for trans-Atlantic travel in picturesque West Ireland and is Europe’s No. 1 tech stop due to its long runway, low fuel costs, no VATs and pre-clearance to the U.S. availability. In addition to low fees, Shannon has excellent service and superb weather with no curfews or congestion. There are ample hotel, golfing and tourist attractions near the airport.


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