US troops directed not to get off flights during Shannon stops

US troops directed not to get off flights during Shannon stops

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File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

U.S. military personnel passing through Shannon on their way to and from the U.S., Middle East and Europe have been directed not to get off their aircraft after landing at the airport.

Concerns have been expressed in recent weeks that US troops continue to be allowed transit Shannon despite President Donald Trump imposing a travel ban on passengers flying to the US amid Covid-19 fears.

In recent weeks and days, one civilian airline carrying US military personnel, has made almost daily stops at Shannon travelling to and from the US, the Middle East and European countries including Bulgaria, Poland and The Netherlands.

Kuwait, a staging ground for troops based in the region, has almost 200 confirmed cases but no deaths while in Bulgaria, there have been three fatalities and 220 confirmed cases of the virus. In Poland nearly 1,000 infections have been confirmed while 13 people have died.

Today, an Omni Air International flight from Eindhoven, the Netherlands, made a refuelling stop in Shannon on its to El Paso in the US state of Texas. There have already been almost 356 Covid-19 related deaths in the Netherlands while over 6,412 people are confirmed to have the virus.

Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

ShannonWatch spokesman Edward Horgan said: “This is outrageous. Ireland is justifiably almost in lockdown to prevent the spread of Coronavirus yet hundreds of US soldiers travelling from affected areas in the Middle East, Europe and the USA are landing at Shannon airport.

The US Embassy says that troops have been ‘directed’ not to get off planes at Shannon but they had been entering the airport terminal building and mingling with airport passengers and airport workers. US President Trump has banned all flights from Europe including Ireland, but not flights taking US soldiers through Shannon airport,” Mr Horgan said.

Mr Horgan also visited Shannon Garda station requesting that US soldiers be stopped from entering the airport terminal building so as the prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Dublin said: “US troops transiting through Shannon Airport have been directed to remain on board the aircraft. Only in circumstances where a maintenance issue requires troops to exit the aircraft will they be allowed to leave the plane and in these circumstances they will not mingle with others passengers in the terminal.”

While several troop carriers still transit Shannon every week, it’s understood there has been a dramatic reduction in US military aircraft traffic using Shannon in the wake of the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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