One flight was forced to divert to Cork Airport while others were placed in holding patterns because of restrictions associated with the departure of the jet carrying the U.S. Vice-President.
‘Sterilisation’ procedures were put in place around Shannon Airport for about 30 minutes before Air Force Two, carrying Vice-President Mike Pence, was due to depart this morning.
A British Airways flight from London to New York via Shannon had to divert to Cork Airport to refuel because the crew couldn’t wait any longer for landing clearance.
The Airbus A318 business-class only jet makes scheduled stops at Shannon to refuel as the runway at London City Airport isn’t long enough for the jet to take off with the fuel it requires of its transatlantic journey. Passengers also avail of US pre-clearance at Shannon during the stopover.
The flight was due to land at Shannon at 11.00am however, while on approach at around 10.50am, the crew was told they would not be cleared for approach until Mr Pence’s jet had departed. Because of the expected delay, the pilot opted instead to divert to Cork.
A British Airways spokesperson confirmed: “The aircraft went into Cork to refuel because refuelling at Shannon airport wasn’t available at that time.”
Two other flights were placed in holding patterns for almost an hour before they were cleared to land after Air Force Two had departed shortly after 11.30am.
Meanwhile, Mr Pence’s substantial cavalcade arrived in Shannon from Doonbeg at around 11.10am after Garda motorcycle outriders had carried out a rolling roadblock along the M18 motorway to clear the way for the over thirty vehicles.
The cavalcade was directed to a remote taxiway where Air Force Two and a second C-32A support aircraft were waiting to depart.
Once Mr Pence’s aircraft was clear of Shannon airspace the waiting aircraft were cleared to land and operations at Shannon returned to normal.