World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Shannon International Airport

Article Id: WHEBN0000358441
Reproduction Date:

Title: Shannon International Airport  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Limerick, River Shannon, Air Florida, British Overseas Airways Corporation, Futura International Airways, ATR 72, Skynet Airlines, Aer Arann, Transatlantic flight, Athea
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Shannon International Airport

Shannon Airport
Aerfort na Sionainne
Airport type Commercial
Owner Government of Ireland
Operator Shannon Development
Location Shannon, County Clare
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 46 ft / 14 m
Coordinates 52°42′07″N 008°55′29″W / 52.70194°N 8.92472°W / 52.70194; -8.92472Coordinates: 52°42′07″N 008°55′29″W / 52.70194°N 8.92472°W / 52.70194; -8.92472

Location in Ireland
Direction Length Surface
m ft
06/24 3,199 10,495 Asphalt
Statistics (2012)
Passengers 1,394,781
Passenger change 11-12 Decrease14.2%
Aircraft Movements 18,200
Movements change 11-12 Decrease5.58%
Source: Irish AIS[1]
Aircraft Movements,[2] Passengers[3]

Shannon Airport (Irish: Aerfort na Sionainne) (IATA: SNNICAO: EINN) is one of Ireland's three primary airports, along with Dublin and Cork. In 2012 1.39 million passengers passed through the airport,[4] making it the third busiest airport in the country after Dublin and Cork. Shannon Airport is located in Shannon, County Clare and mainly serves Limerick, Ennis, Galway, and the south-west of Ireland.

Shannon is Ireland's most historic airport; it was the first transatlantic gateway between Ireland and the US; the birthplace of Duty Free Shopping; and aviation leasing.[5][6]


In the late 1930s, transatlantic air traffic was dominated by flying boats, and a flying boat terminal was located at Foynes on the south side of the Shannon Estuary. However, it was realised that changing technology would require a permanent runway and airport.

In 1936, the Government of Ireland confirmed that it would develop a 3.1 km2 (1.2 sq mi) site at Rineanna for the country's first transatlantic airport. The land on which the airport was to be built was boggy, and on 8 October 1936 work began to drain the land. By 1942 a serviceable airport had been established and was named 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 16 September 1945 the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am DC-4, landed at Shannon from New York City. On 24 October, the first scheduled commercial flight, an American Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through Shannon Airport.

The number of international carriers rose sharply in succeeding years as Shannon became well known as the gateway between Europe and the Americas; limited aircraft range necessitated refuelling stops on many journeys. Shannon became the most convenient stopping point before and after a trip across the Atlantic.

The longest runway in Ireland, at over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), is located at Shannon. It was a designated landing site for the Space Shuttle.

Ryanair increased services and passenger numbers at the airport through 2008. In 2007, Shannon carried 3.2 million passengers. However, after a disagreement with the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in 2008, Ryanair announced that the number of based aircraft would reduce from 4 to 1 and 150 jobs would be lost. Services were cut by 75% and 32 Ryanair routes from the airport were reduced to 8.

CityJet launched a twice-daily route to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2008 when Aer Lingus closed its London Heathrow flights. The company based an Avro RJ85 at Shannon. More services were under consideration, including a route to London City Airport; however CityJet pulled out of Shannon in October 2009 after Aer Lingus reinstated their Heathrow flights.


Aer Arann launched services to 4 UK destinations in 2010 under the Aer Lingus Regional Banner. Two ATR 72 are now based at Shannon and fly regularly to Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Manchester, with flights to Bristol and Rennes during the summer months. A Glasgow service was discontinued in October 2010.

Aer Lingus is again Shannon's main airline, with 3 flights daily to London Heathrow, 4 flights per week to Boston, and 3 to New York JFK. Services to Paris and London Gatwick by the airline have been discontinued. They operate an Airbus A330 maintenance base at Shannon and have one Airbus A320 permanently based at the airport, with an Airbus A330 stationed from March–December each year.


The last quarter of 2012 saw a timely resurgence for Shannon, with new services announced for Philadelphia (US Airways) and Chicago (United Airlines), a return of Aer Lingus to JFK and Boston, and Delta to JFK, giving Shannon direct services to five US airports for 2013. It remains, along with Dublin Airport, as one of only two airports in the Republic of Ireland with flights to and from the US and, from a transatlantic perspective, services the entire west coast of Ireland.

In November 2012, Aer Lingus also confirmed a new three times weekly service to Faro, Portugal, operating from May to September with an Airbus A320, strengthening Shannon's summer-sun destinations.

In December 2012, it was announced that Shannon Airport would separate from the Dublin Airport Authority, who still own Dublin and Cork airports. On 31 December 2012 at 11:59 pm, Shannon Airport became a publicly owned commercial airport and is now operated and run by the Shannon Airport Authority plc.

2013: Independence from the DAA

The first passengers through the newly autonomous airport arrived on the Aer Lingus EI-110 flight from JFK at 5:08 am on 1 January 2013 (New Year's Day). Flybe have announced a thrice-weekly year-round flight to Glasgow International to commence from 1 May 2013. Shannon Airport also welcomed the early launch of the Aer Lingus summer schedule to the US as a vote of confidence in transatlantic services at Shannon.

On March 21, Ryanair announced a new twice weekly route to Alicante, Spain to commence June 5 for the summer months. This brings Shannon's total to 33 seasonal scheduled summer routes.

In March 2013, the new company appointed Neil Pakey as its first CEO.

Traffic figures for June 2013 report an 8% increase on the previous year and the first time a traffic increase has been recorded in 3 years.

in October,United Airlines confirmed in will increase capacity by 88% on its Shannon Chicago route for 2014. Ryanair announced 8 new routes from Shannon to continental Europe. The new routes will begin from the start of April 2014 and a second Boeing 737-800 will be based at Shannon to accomodate the extra 300,000 passengers a year it will bring. Destinations announced were Berlin Schonefeld, Paris-Beauvais, Memmingen, Warsaw Modlin, Krakow, Nice, Faro and Fuertaventura.

Duty Free

In 1947, the "Customs Free Airport Act" established Shannon as the world's first duty free airport; although "Duty Free" shopping is not applicable anymore for flights within the European Union, EU-bound passengers can still buy goods, but will have to pay the normal taxes.[6] Shannon became a model for other Duty Free facilities worldwide.[6] For most goods, passengers can buy the same goods regardless of their destination: the only difference will be made in charging VAT at check-out. An exception to this are tobacco products as all tobacco products sold in Ireland need to have an excise stamp, while this doesn't apply for "real" duty-free tobacco. As the prices for tobacco In Ireland are among the highest in the world, there is little or no demand for tobacco at Irish airports for EU flights.[7]

Transatlantic services to the US

In 1958, the Irish Airline Aer Lingus began transatlantic service to the United States, using Lockheed Super Constellations for thrice-weekly service to New York City and Boston.

The 1960s proved to be difficult for Shannon Airport. With the introduction of new long range jet aircraft, transit traffic fell sharply as the need to refuel at Shannon became unnecessary.

In 1966, Aer Lingus began service between Shannon and Chicago, with a stop in Montréal, Canada. This route was taken out of service in 1979.

In 1969, it was announced that a new government agency, Aer Rianta (now the Dublin Airport Authority), would be given responsibility for Shannon Airport. Passenger numbers at the airport reached 460,000 that same year. With the increase in passengers and the introduction of the Boeing 747, it was decided that a new enlarged terminal was needed. The first commercial operation of a 747 took place in April 1971, while the new terminal officially opened in May of that year. 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. Aer Rianta and the Soviet airline Aeroflot signed an agreement and, by 1980, Aeroflot established a fuel farm at Shannon.[6][8] The fuel farm was to hold Soviet fuel and soon Aeroflot planes were stopping over at Shannon to refuel en route to destinations in South, Central, and North America. The number of Aeroflot flights went from 240 aircraft in 1980 to 2,000 aircraft by 1991. In 1989, the US carrier Delta Air Lines launched flights from Shannon and Dublin to Atlanta and New York-JFK. The New York route was dropped after 9/11 but has since re-commenced.

During the 1990s, the airport began to struggle. The bilateral agreement with the United States was renegotiated resulting in fewer planes being required to stop over in Shannon (see Shannon Stopover below). However, 1996 saw the beginning of Continental Airlines flying between Dublin, Shannon, and Newark, New Jersey.

With the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Aeroflot began to suffer which was a big loss to the airport. Aeroflot had brought 250,000 passengers a year through Shannon.[9]

Shannon began to rebound in the late 1990s with the success of the Irish economy, the improving situation in Northern Ireland, and an influx of American tourists. By the end of the decade Shannon had passengers numbers of 2.2 million and in the year 2000, a new £40 million terminal extension was opened.

Shannon continued to expand during the Celtic Tiger years with many services operated to the US and Canada.

Delta Air Lines operated to Atlanta until 2007. They pulled out of Shannon in 2008, but resumed service to New York JFK in 2010. The service now operates daily from May to November.

American Airlines flew to Shannon from Boston and Chicago daily until 2007.

Aer Lingus suspended services between Shannon and Chicago in 2008.

US Airways operated daily services to Philadelphia until 2008 using Boeing 757-200 aircraft. In November 2012, the airline announced that they will return to Shannon in Summer 2013 with a daily Philadelphia service operating for the summer only.

United Airlines announced a significant boost to Shannon in October 2012 when they announced a Summer service to Chicago, operating 5 times weekly.

On 3 July 2013, Aer Lingus announced that services to New York JFK and Boston will now operate all year round, instead of seasonally. The airline currently has one Airbus A330-200 based at the airport for transatlantic services that operates four times a week to Boston and three times a week to New York. From April 2014, the A330-200 will be removed and two Boeing 757's will replace it, meaning that Boston and New York will now both operate 7 days a week 364 days a year (except Christmas Day).

Shannon stopover

The first Air Services Agreement with the United States in 1945 only permitted flights to Shannon, and only permitted Irish airlines to serve Boston, Chicago, and New York. In 1971, the US Civil Aeronautics Board announced that unless US planes were allowed to operate into Dublin Airport they proposed to ban Aer Lingus from landing in New York. Eventually an agreement was reached which allowed one US carrier, TWA, to service Dublin Airport through Shannon.

In 1990, the US-Irish bilateral agreement was changed to allow Irish airlines to serve Los Angeles and additional US airlines to serve Dublin via Shannon. An amendment in 1993 allowed airlines to provide direct transatlantic services to Dublin, but 50% of transatlantic flights had to either originate or stop over in Shannon.

In 2005, an agreement was reached regarding a transitional period. Beginning in November 2006 and ending in April 2008, the agreement gradually eliminated restrictions on cargo services. For passenger service, it reduced the stopover requirement and allowed Irish airlines to serve three additional US destinations. Furthermore, it was agreed that at the end of this period, no restrictions would be placed on scheduled services between any airport in the one country to any airport in the other.

In 2007, the European Union and USA announced that an agreement had been reached on an open skies aviation policy. The agreement came into effect from March 30, 2008. This effectively led to the complete abolition of the Shannon Stopover, although this would have happened under the 2005 agreement anyway.

Seasonal suspension of Aer Lingus' transatlantic routes

Aer Lingus announced on 15 June 2010 that it would be suspending services from Shannon to Boston and New York (JFK) for 11 weeks from January 2011. This is also happening during the Winter 2011–12 season and the upcoming Winter 2012–13 season. The flights will operate between three and four times weekly for the rest of the year with an A330-200 aircraft.[10]

Military stopover issue

Shannon Airport has a history of foreign military use. A large part of its business in recent years has been military stopovers, currently almost all American; however, the airport was also frequently used by the Soviet military until the 1990s, since Ireland, having a traditional policy of military neutrality, was not a member of NATO. There were some restrictions, such as being unarmed, carrying no arms, ammunition, or explosives, and that the flights in question did not form part of military exercises or operations. Shannon saw military transports throughout the Cold War and during the first Gulf War.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Irish government offered the use of Shannon to the US government. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the government still allowed United States armed forces to use the airport. This caused much controversy and was the subject of protests and a challenge brought to the High Court.[11] In January 2003, a woman took an axe to the nose cone and fuel lines of a US Navy jet; however, a trial ended in her acquittal. In February 2003, a group known as the Pitstop Ploughshares damaged a United States Navy C-40 Clipper aircraft at the airport. They were tried three separate times and ultimately ended up also being acquitted.

A 2007 survey found 58% of Irish people opposed the use of Shannon for prosecuting the Iraq war.[12]

As of November 2008, approximately 1.2 million troops have passed through Shannon since the beginning of the Iraq War. This has generated significant revenue for the airport and has offset the loss of flights from the end of the Shannon stopover and the general downturn in the global aviation industry.[13]

In 2012-2013, the military flight contracts are held by Omni Air International, which uses Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft, Sun Country Airlines, which uses 737-800 aircraft, and North American Airlines, which uses Boeing 757s.

Rendition flight allegations

On 6 December 2005, the BBC programme Newsnight alleged that Shannon was used on at least 33 occasions by United States Central Intelligence Agency flights, thought to be part of a US policy called extraordinary rendition. The New York Times reported the number to be 33, though referring to "Ireland" rather than Shannon, while Amnesty International has alleged the number of flights to be 50. The United States has denied these allegations.


The current airport terminal was opened on 27 March 2000 by then Minister of Transport Mary O'Rourke. This facility has 40 check-in desks, 5 baggage carousels, and 14 boarding gates (including 6 airbridges). There are nearly 40 aircraft parking stands. The car-parks can hold over 5,000 cars.[14]

Much of the older landside section of the airport has been renovated with new 'Shannon Airport' branding. An airside area renovation and passenger separation project was completed in Summer 2010.[15]

Aer Rianta International, a subsidiary of the Dublin Airport Authority, has its head office on the grounds of Shannon Airport.[16] When Eirjet existed, its head office was located on the grounds of Shannon Airport.[17]

U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance

In 1986 a United States border preclearance facility was opened at Shannon, eliminating the need to go through immigration on arrival in the United States. In November 2008, it was announced that customs and agriculture inspections would be added, making Shannon the first airport in Europe to offer this service. This is expected to be a big incentive to attract airlines and corporate jets to Shannon. Shannon Airport spent 21 million on the facilities.[18] To have these facilities put in place a two story, 7,000 square metre extension to the main terminal building has been constructed. The facility opened the morning of 5 August 2009. The passengers on Continental Airlines flight CO25 from Shannon to Newark were first to use the facilities which give Shannon a unique status.

On March 1, 2010, Shannon Airport became the first airport outside the U.S. to offer U.S. Customs and Border Protection to private aircraft. The US Customs and Border Protection facility that opened at Dublin Airport in January 2011 is used for commercial aircraft only.

British Airways operates a twice-daily business class-only flight from London City Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with a stopover in Shannon. This allows them to take off from the short runway of City Airport, which is located in the London Docklands area and stop for fuel in Shannon. On the earlier flight passengers can use the stop to go through pre-clearance, and arrive in New York without the need to go through immigration or customs. Until October 2012 both flights allowed pre-clearance in Shannon, but an earlier closure of the pre-clearance facility due to US CBP staff cutbacks now means passengers on the later flight have to pass immigration and customs at JFK. [19]

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations
Aer Lingus Boston, London-Heathrow, New York-JFK
Seasonal: Faro, Lanzarote
Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Aer Arann
Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester
Air Europa Seasonal Charter: Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca (begins 3 May 2014)[20]
Air Méditerranée Seasonal Charter: Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Strasbourg, Toulouse
Air Transat Seasonal: Toronto-Pearson
Arkefly Seasonal Charter: Reus
Croatia Airlines Seasonal Charter: Dubrovnik
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: New York-JFK
Flybe Glasgow-International
Germania Seasonal Charter: Faro
Helvetic Airways Seasonal Charter: Zurich
Onur Air Seasonal Charter: Bodrum, Izmir
Ryanair Beauvais [begins 1 April 2014], Berlin-Schönefeld (begins 4 April 2014), Krakow [begins 3 April 2014], Lanzarote, Liverpool, London-Gatwick, London-Stansted, Warsaw-Modlin [begins 2 April 2014], Wrocław
Seasonal: Alicante, Faro [begins 1 April 2014], Fuerteventura [begins 5 April 2014], Málaga, Memmingen (begins 1 April 2014), Nantes, Nice [begins 4 April 2014],Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife-South
United Airlines Newark
Seasonal: Chicago-O'Hare
US Airways Seasonal: Philadelphia


Shannon's unrestricted runway, round the clock operation, efficient handling, and the presence of many of the major global logistics firms provide a wide range of air cargo options. The significant clusters of export-oriented industry in the West, Mid West, and South of Ireland in particular depend on Shannon's cargo services and facilities for timely access to their major markets.

Handling Agents

  • Lufthansa Cargo
  • Servisair
  • Sky handling partners
  • Shannon Air Link Ltd
  • Signature Flight Support Shannon
  • Universal Aviation
  • US Alliance Flight Support Ltd
  • Westair Aviation


In 2011, passenger numbers at Shannon declined by 7.4% from 1,755,885 (2010), to 1,625,549 (2011).[21]

In 2012, passenger numbers at Shannon declined by 230,000 to 1.39m from the 1.62m who passed through Shannon in 2011.[22]

Passenger numbers

20 busiest routes at Shannon Airport (2012)
Rank Airport Passengers Handled  % Change
1 United Kingdom London Heathrow 266,156 Decrease 3.7
2 United Kingdom London Stansted 193,465 Increase 11.2
3 United States New York City 109,359 Decrease 22.5
4 United States Newark, New Jersey 107,379 Decrease 9.9
5 United Kingdom London Gatwick 102,964 Decrease 12.0
6 United States Boston 63,030 Increase 20.1
7 United Kingdom Manchester 57,324 Increase 10.3
8 Spain Lanzarote 44,944 Increase 5.8
9 Spain Palma de Mallorca 37,625 Increase 23.9
10 Poland Wrocław 34,739 Increase 1.1
11 United Kingdom Birmingham 33,086 Decrease 5.3
12 United Kingdom Liverpool 32,472 Decrease 14.2
13 United Kingdom Edinburgh 31,120 Increase 53.3
14 France Nantes 22,952 Increase 12.4
15 Spain Málaga 21,533 Decrease 1.6
16 United Kingdom Bristol 18,207 Decrease 31.7
17 Spain Tenerife-South 10,629 Decrease 22.6
18 Spain Reus 6,845 Increase 1.1
19 Turkey Izmir 6,709 Increase 126.9
20 Canada Toronto 6,363 Increase 5.7
Source: Central Statistics Office (Ireland)[23]
Year Total
2000 2,400,000
2001 2,400,000
2002 2,300,000 Decrease04.2%
2003 2,500,000 Increase08.7%
2004 2,500,000 Increase00.0%
2005 3,302,046 Increase32.1%
2006 3,639,046 Increase10.2%
2007 3,620,623 Decrease00.5%
2008 3,169,529 Decrease12.5%
2009 2,794,563 Decrease11.8%
2010 1,755,885 Decrease37.2%
2011 1,625,549 Decrease07.4%
2012 1,394,781 Decrease14.3%

Ground transport


Shannon Airport is the end destination of the N19 national route, which connects to the N18/M18 Limerick–Ennis–Galway route. A dual carriageway section of the N19 was finished in 2004, bypassing the town of Shannon, and a new interchange and dual carriageway north to Ennis were completed in 2007 on the N18 (M18).


Bus Services at Shannon Airport
Means of transport Operator Service Destination Website
- Bus Bus Éireann 343 Limerick
Bus Éireann 51 Cork
Bus Éireann 51 Galway
Bus Éireann 344 Ennis
JJ Kavanagh T1 Dublin [24]

The airport is also served by local taxis. There is a taxi rank located outside the arrivals entrance.

Car hire is available in the arrivals hall of the terminal building, with eight car rental firms located at the airport.

Private hire coaches and busses are available from many operators such as Eirebus [3] but these need to be pre-booked and can transport you to any destinations throughout Ireland.

Shannon Airport offers both short-term and long-term parking within the airport with over 5,000 spaces available. All car parks operate 24 hours and are regularly patrolled by Airport Police.

Incidents and accidents

Due to the location of Shannon, it receives a large number of emergency stopovers.

  • 16 July 1943 - a British Overseas Airways Corporation de Havilland DH91 Fortuna crash-landed short of the Runway 14 threshold. There were no injuries.
  • 18 June 1946 - an Aer Lingus Douglas DC-3, Charlie Alpha, on a domestic flight from Rineanna to Dublin crashed shortly after takeoff with only minor injuries reported.
  • 28 December 1946 - TWA Lockheed Constellation Flight 6963 crashed attempting to land at the airport.[25]
  • 15 April 1948 - Pan Am Flight 1-10, a Lockheed Constellation crashed attempting to land at the airport.[26]
  • 5 September 1954 - Lockheed Super Constellation KLM Flight 633 from Amsterdam to New York, using Shannon as a refueling stop, crashed just after takeoff into a mudbank adjacent to the airport. 28 people on board died.
  • 15 July 1956 - a Swissair Convair CV-440-11 crashed on approach to the airport due to pilot error. The aircraft was on its delivery flight from San Diego, California to Zürich via New York, Gander, and Shannon. The crash killed all four crew on board.
  • 14 August 1958 - Lockheed Super Constellation KLM Flight 607-E from Amsterdam to New York crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after a refueling stop at Shannon.
  • 26 February 1960 - an Alitalia Douglas DC-7C crashed after taking off from the airport, killing 34 people out of 52 passengers and crew on board.
  • 10 September 1961 - a President Airlines Douglas DC-6 crashed into the river Shannon after taking off from the airport on a flight to Canada. The disaster killed all 83 passengers and crew, one of the worst air disasters in Ireland's history.
  • 30 September 1977 - an Interconair Bristol 175 Britannia 253 overran the airport's runway after severe vibration on the approach. The left wing broke off and caught fire but none of the six crew were injured in the crash.
  • 20 June 1979 - American Airlines Flight 293 landed in Shannon after being hijacked.
  • On 17 July 2011, Aer Arann ATR 72-212 EI-SLM was damaged beyond economical repair when the nose gear collapsed on landing at Shannon Airport. The aircraft was operating an internationally scheduled passenger flight from Manchester Airport in the UK. There were no injuries amongst the four crew and 21 passengers on board.[27]


External links

Ireland portal
Aviation portal

  • Shannon Airport Guide
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.