|Dublin, Jan 10: Armed with a unique pact with the US on screening for customs and immigration, Ireland is wooing Indian carriers to use Dublin as a hub to fly their passengers onward to US cities as domestic passengers.
"Ireland's US customs and border protection facilities allow US bound passengers to clear all US entry requirement within Ireland," said Vincent Harrison, director for strategy regulation with the Dublin Airport Authority.
"With pre-clearance, the passengers fly to US cities like they would do on a domestic flight in the US," Harrison said during a visit to see the facilities offered at the new terminal at the Dublin Airport.
"We are in talks with some carriers - we have spoken with Air India. That's where it is," he said, adding that they were aware of the strong Indian diaspora in the US and the large air traffic between India and the US that often flies via the Gulf and Europe.
Indian Americans number almost three million, not including Indian passport holders working there.
During the course of a presentation by an officer of the US Customs and Border Protection and authorities at the airport here, it was stated that this unique pact with the US also entails a great deal of benefit to both the airline and passengers.
Carriers save on the high cost they would have to pay at a US international airport and passengers get to quickly clear their customs and immigration formalities for easy access to less-congested domestic airport terminals at their destination.
"We certainly attract a much lower airport charge than what is levied at a US destination airport. All this means reduced repatriation cost for the carriers and comfort for passengers," Harrison said.
The pre-clearance also includes pre-inspection for agriculture.
According to officials, at an average, a passenger takes around just 10 minutes to clear the US customs and immigration formalities at the Dublin airport, and never more than 30 minutes. "Sometimes, it takes all of five minutes."
Outside of North America, pre-clearance into US is only offered in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Aruba and two airports in Ireland - at Dublin and Shannon. (IANS)