Shannon Airport…

ShannonAirport is the third busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland . In 2005 more than 3.2 million passengers travelled through Shannon Airport . Shannon Airport  is situated in County Clare  in the mid-west of Ireland  15 km from Limerick City . The airport is operated by the Dublin Airport Authority.

Shannon Airport mostly handles transatlantic flights and flights to Britain .  Shannon Airport and Dublin Airport  are the only two European airports with US Border preclearance facilities. Foreign military use  of its facilities has been a cause of concern to Irish popular opinion.

In the late 1930s, transatlantic air traffic was dominated by flying boats and the ‘European Terminal’ was at Foynes on the south side of the Shannon Estuary. However, it was re ali sed that changing technology would require a runway and airport.

In 1936 the Irish Government confirmed that it would develop a 760 acre site at Rineanna for the country’s first transatlantic airport. The area where the Shannon 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 WWII ended the airport was ready to be used by the many new post-war commercial airlines of Europe and North America .

The number of international carriers rose sharply in succeeding years as Shannon Airport became well known as the gateway between Europe and the Americas as it was the most convenient and obvious stopping point before and after the trip across the Atlantic.

In 1947 the Customs Free Airport Act established Shannon Airport as the world’s first Duty Free   Airport , where transit and embarking passengers were exempt from normal customs procedures. Shannon Airport became a model for other Duty Free facilities throughout the world. In the same year, Shannon Airport was finally completed.

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. While some airlines were ending their Shannon services Aer Lingus expanded its transatlantic routes.

In 1969 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.

In 1974 a major increase in fuel prices had a dramatic effect on transit traffic. The 1980s saw a number of new airlines arrive at Shannon . In 2005 passenger numbers grew by 32%  largely due to the addition of several new routes by Ryanair.

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 rarely 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 Shannon Airport has been the subject of protests, direct actions and High Court actions over such usage.

Shannon Airport is the end destination of the N19 National Route , which connects to the N18 Limerick-Galway route. Regular bus services connect the airport to Limerick , Ennis and Galway . Like all airports in Ireland , Shannon currently has no rail connection. However there are early discussions of a private €60m project to connect the airport to the Limerick-Ennis line, a distance of 10km.