Troop Flights Through Shannon Down in 2012 but on the Increase Again

Troop Flights Through Shannon Down in 2012 but on the Increase Again

Shannonwatch, 3 January 2013

The number of US troop carriers using Shannon Airport was down in 2012 compared to previous years. In 2011 there was an average of over 80 troop flights a month but in 2012 the numbers recorded by Shannonwatch ranged from a low of 13 in July to a high of 72 in April.

But while all the summer months saw relatively low numbers of troop carriers at Shannon, their frequency began to increase again towards the end of the year.

Even though the number of civilian aircraft carrying US troop was down, the number of US military aircraft landing at Shannon did not change in 2012. On average 24 of these used Shannon every month, including Hercules c-130's and mid-air refueling tankers.

The following graph shows the number of US military related flights recorded by Shannonwatch in 2012.

In May the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar confirmed that the number of US troops passing through Shannon was plummeting. Since 2001 about two million US troops have passed through the airport but in a written Dáil response to Sinn Féin’s Pádraig MacLochlainn, Mr Varadkar said only 45,000 troops had passed through Shannon in the first four months of this year.

The decline was attributed to troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Politicians like Fianna Fail's Tommy Dooley lamented the loss of this war business. Mr Dooley, who is a Clare TD and his party's transport spokesperson, was reported in June as saying that it would result in “a double hit” to Shannon Airport’s revenues. However he has no comment to make on the lives lost as a result of the troops' presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In early December Minister Varadkar said that part of the new Shannon Airport strategy would include attracting more military stopovers. Nearly 1,000 new jobs have been promised - even guaranteed - for Shannon by the Government after they formally unveiled plans to separate the airport from the Dublin Airport Authority.

Clearly there is no desire in Government to end the US military use of Shannon. Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour all seem united in their desire to profit from US wars, while ignoring the human cost. Countless lives have been lost; communities, economies and nations have been destroyed by the troops that started passing through Shannon in 2001. But our politicians are once again looking forward to increased troop movements, which means more war, more killing and more suffering.

An invasion of Iran in the coming months would clearly be welcomed by the Irish Government. But lets hope it doesn't come to pass, as its likely to result in even greater loss of life than previous US invasions, and to have devastating consequences for the Middle East.

Full details of the US military flights through Shannon are available at http://www.shannonwatch.org/page/us-military-traffic-through-shannon-2012-flight-log-summaries. For more information phone 087 8225087 or email shannonwatch@gmail.com.