Shannon Airport

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Shannon Airport
Quick info
Type of Airport commercial
Run by Dublin Airport Authority
Opened October 24, 1945
City County Clare/Limerick, Ireland
Coordinates Template:Coor dm
Direction Length Surface
Meters Feet
06/24 3200 10496 Asphalt
13/31 1720 5642 Asphalt
Number of Passengers 2,200,000
Comments on this test infobox

Shannon Airport (IATA Airport Code; SNN, ICAO Airport Code; EINN) is Ireland's main transatlantic airport. Situated in the mid-west of Ireland just 15km from Limerick City, the airport is operated by Dublin Airport Authority. This company also administers Dublin Airport and Cork International Airport. Shannon Airport mostly handles transatlantic flights and flights to Britain. Aer Lingus is the largest operator at Shannon Airport.



In 1936 the Irish Government confirmed that it would develop a 760 acre (3.1 km²) site at Rineanna for the country's first transatlantic airport. The area where the airport was to be built was extremely boggy so work wasn't easy. On October 8, 1936 work began on draining the land. By 1942 a serviceable airport had been established and that new airport was called Shannon Airport. By 1945 the existing runways at Shannon were extended to allow transatlantic flights to land. When World War II ended the airport was ready to be used by the many new post-war commercial airlines of Europe and North America. On September 16, 1945 the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am DC-4, landed at Shannon from New York. On October 24, the first scheduled commercial flight passed through Shannon Airport. It was a Douglas DC-4 which belonged to American Overseas Airways. Trans World Airways (TWA), Pan American Airways (Pan Am) and BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) also began operations in 1945.

The number of international carriers rose sharply in succeeding years as Shannon became well known as the gateway between Europe and the Americas. Limitation of aircraft range necessitated the interruptions of journeys for refuelling. Shannon became the most convenient and obvious stopping point before and after the trip across the Atlantic. In 1947 the Customs Free Airport Act established Shannon as the world's first Duty Free Airport where transit and embarking passengers were exempt from normal customs procedures. Shannon became a model for other Duty Free facilities throughout the world. In the same year, the airport was finally completed.

In 1947 Aer Lingus decided to begin its own transatlantic service. Five Lockheed Constellation aircraft were delivered with the inaugural flight due to take place on March 17, 1948. However financial difficulties and the election of a new government in Ireland meant the plan had to be dropped. However, over the next ten years even more new airlines and aircraft still continued to operate out of Shannon. In 1958 Aer Lingus finally began services to the United States using Lockheed Constellations.

The 1960s proved to be a tough decade for Shannon Airport. Transit traffic fell sharply as there was no longer the need for planes crossing the Atlantic to re-fuel at Shannon because they could now reach their European destinations non-stop with longer-range jets. Alitalia, Sabena, Lufthansa and KLM all ended their services through Shannon. However, while some airlines were ending their Shannon services Aer Lingus expanded its transatlantic routes with Boeing 720s and later Boeing 707 aircraft.

In 1969 it was announced that Aer Rianta would be given responsibility for Shannon Airport as well as for Cork Airport. Passenger numbers at the airport reached 460,000 that same year so it was decided that a new enlarged terminal would have to be built. The invention of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet also meant that better facilities were needed. The first commercial operation of a Boeing 747 took place in April 1971 whil the new terminal officially opened in May of that year.

At the end of 1971 the US Civil Aeronautics Board announced that unless US planes were allowed operate into Dublin Airport they proposed to ban Aer Lingus from landing in New York. This provoked an instant reaction from the Shannon staff. Eventually an agreement was reached which allowed one US carrier to service Dublin Airport through Shannon. TWA was the designated airline.

In 1974 a major increase in fuel prices had a dramatic effect on transit traffic. Pan Am ended all its scheduled operations at Shannon. It did however continue charter services through the airport. Other airlines also pulled out of Shannon. The 1980s saw a number of new airlines arrive at Shannon. Aeroflot of Russia used the airport as a fuel stop while Delta Airlines began new services to Atlanta and New York. In 1986 a US Immigration pre-clearance facility was opened at Shannon, thus cutting down on the time spent queueing on arrival in the United States. 1989 saw Pan Am return to Shannon operating scheduled services.

In 1993 the US-Ireland bilateral agreement was changed. This allowed airlines to provide direct transatlantic services to Dublin Airport. The Shannon lobby were outraged at the loss of the Stopover Status, however, in reality little has changed. The September 11th terrorist attacks severely threatened the future of Shannon Airport. Aer Lingus and Delta Airlines reduced their services while other airlines pulled out completely. However, since then a number of new airlines have started new services such as US Airways and Air Canada.

In 2004, a separate airport authority for Shannon, Shannon Airport Authority was set up in shadow form. Under the State Airports Act 2004, this company must prepare a business plan for Shannon Airport before taking over operation of the airport (from Dublin Airport Authority) not earlier than May 2005.

Foreign military aircraft at Shannon

Shannon Airport also has a history of foreign military use. A large part of its business is military stopovers, currently almost all American, however the airport was also frequently used by the Soviet military until the 1990's. There were some official restrictions, such as no weaponry being allowed and uniformed foreign soldiers remaining out of public areas. However they were hardly enforced, and uniformed U.S. soldiers are seen daily in the public areas of the airport. Shannon saw military transports throughout the Cold War and during both Gulf Wars. Recently the airport has been the subject of protests, direct actions and High Court actions over such usage.

In April 2003 the High Court ruled in Horgan v Ireland ( that for Ireland to be a Neutral Power under international law, it must prevent "belligerents from making use of neutral territories and neutral resources for their military purposes". The Irish Government however expressly invited ( the United States to use Ireland's airports and airspace for its "long campaign against terrorism", waiving all previous restrictions regarding foreign military aircraft. The provisions of Bunreacht na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland) which affirm Ireland's commitment to the rule of international law were found to be only "aspirational".

A further judicial review relating to Shannon Airport and the U.S.-led attack against Afghanistan was heard in February 2005. Ms Judge Macken is due to return with a judgement in April-May 2005. Protests and vigils also continue, and a group of Catholic Worker activists face a re-trial in Autumn 2005 for damaging a U.S. Navy aircraft at the airport in February 2003.

Financial figures released in April 2005 show that the airport lost of €2.5m, whilst the tranport of US troops made an income of €18m for the airport. In May 2005 the Minister for Transport revealed that the state pays the €10m annual cost to air-traffic control due to US military aircraft in Irish airspace [1] (, under the Eurocontrol agreement.

Airlines using Shannon

SNN is one of the hubs of Irish international and domestic airline Aer Lingus, which is also one of five companies providing aircraft maintenance at the airport. Shannon is also one of the hubs of Irish low budget airline Ryanair. The airport can handle landings by aeroplanes of all sizes.

The United States - Ireland bilateral requires that air carriers operating between the United States and Ireland must provide capacity into Dublin Airport and Shannon. The rule came from the days when aircraft did not have a long range and were forced to stop at Shannon.

List of passenger airlines using Shannon (as at January 2005)

List of cargo airlines using Shannon

List of airlines which used to use Shannon

External link

Airports in Ireland

Belfast City | Belfast International | Cork | Derry | Donegal | Dublin | Galway | Kerry | Knock | Shannon | Sligo | Waterford

de:Flughafen Shannon fr:aéroport international Shannon ga:Aerfort na Sionna sv:Shannon Airport


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