U.S. military traffic through Shannon was down significantly in April due to the spread of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland. The ongoing presence of this ash in and around Irish airspace has now resulted in the re-routing of all troop and military cargo flights through different bases worldwide. Since early May there have been no U.S. Air Force cargo or troop carriers at Shannon. Clearly the U.S. military leaders are not prepared to risk having cargo or soldiers that are essential to their wars of occupation sitting on the ground in the west of Ireland.
While U.S. military flights continued to used Irish airspace on April 15th after the Irish Aviation Authority announced its closure, Irish airports and the skies over Ireland were completely free of foreign military traffic from April 16th to the 21st inclusive. For six days Ireland's neutrality was restored thanks to an act of nature. The foreign military flights resumed on April 22nd but according to logs maintained by Shannonwatch no U.S. Air Force planes have landed at Shannon since the last day of the month. Omni Air International, which is the commercial carrier that transports U.S. soldiers and their weapons through Shannon, continued to land up until May 3rd but has not used the airport since.
"While we have always sought an end to U.S. military use of Shannon Airport, it would be far more fitting if the Irish government recognised the widespread damage being done by the aggressive military policy of the U.S. towards Iraq and Afghanistan and told them to leave" said a Shannonwatch spokesperson. "The government's claims that allowing foreign military aircraft to use Irish soil is compatible with a neutral stance and that it does not constitute participation in any particular conflict are simply not true".
Figures released by Shannonwatch for military activity at Shannon airport in April show that only one U.S. Hercules military transport flight landed over the course of the entire month, compared to nine in March. Troop flights were down to half the usual numbers as many were re-routed through bases in Spain and elsewhere.
All this is happening at a time when the U.S. hopes to move troops out of Iraq while continuing to increase their numbers in Afghanistan, both at huge financial and human cost. However a spokesperson for the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command which oversees military cargo and troop movements is quoted on their Department of Defense website as saying they donít plan to return to normal routes until they can do so permanently. This shows once again that the war industry is an unsustainable - as well as immoral - basis for business at Shannon.
Now that the war planes have had to temporarily abandon the use of Shannon Airport, its a good time to tell them they are not welcome back.
Details of U.S. military traffic through Shannon are available from the Shannonwatch website, www.shannonwatch.org.