Shannon Airport

Shannon Airport
Aerfort na Sionna
Airport type Commercial
Owner Government of Ireland
Operator Shannon Group Plc
Serves Mid-West Region, Ireland
Location Shannon, County Clare
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 (2015)
Passengers 1,714,297
Passenger change '14-'15 Increase4.7%
Aircraft Movements 21,473
Movements change '14-'15 Increase3.7%

Shannon Airport (Irish: Aerfort na Sionna) (IATA: SNN, ICAO: EINN) is one of Ireland's three primary airports, along with Dublin and Cork. In 2015, 1.714 million passengers passed through the airport,[2] making it the third busiest airport in the country after Dublin and Cork. Shannon Airport is in Shannon, County Clare, and mainly serves Limerick, Ennis, Galway and the south-west of Ireland.


Before 2010

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. An accident involving President Airlines on 10 September 1961 resulted in the loss of 83 lives. The Douglas DC-6 aircraft crashed into the Shannon River while leaving Shannon Airport for Chicago.

Capitol Airways Lockheed Constellation at Shannon Airport in 1961

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. Additionally, during the Cold War, many transatlantic flights from the Soviet Union stopped here for refuelling, because Shannon was (and is today, though it no longer matters in this sense) the westernmost non-NATO airport.

The longest runway in Ireland, at 3,199 metres (10,495 ft), is located at Shannon. It was a designated landing site for the Space Shuttle.[6] On 4 July 2014, the "Bank of Ireland Runway Night Run" featured 1,200 people running along the runway to raise money for charity.[7]

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 its Heathrow flights.


Map of the airport.

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.

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, the first time a traffic increase has been recorded in three years. On 21 March 2013, Ryanair announced a new twice-weekly route to Alicante, Spain to begin on 5 June for the summer months. This brings Shannon's total to 33 seasonal scheduled summer routes. In October 2013, United Airlines confirmed it will increase capacity by 88% on its Shannon-Chicago route for 2014. Ryanair also announced 8 new routes from Shannon to continental Europe. The new routes began from the start of April 2014, and a second Boeing 737-800 was based at Shannon to accommodate the extra 300,000 passengers a year it would bring in. Destinations announced were Berlin Schonefeld, Beauvais, Memmingen, Warsaw Modlin, Kraków, Nice, Faro and Fuerteventura.


In 1947, the "Customs Free Airport Act" established Shannon as the world's first duty-free airport, a move promoted by Brendan O'Regan; although "duty-free" shopping is not applicable any more for flights within the European Union, EU-bound passengers can still buy goods, but have to pay the normal taxes.[8] Shannon became a model for other duty-free facilities worldwide.[8] 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 does not 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.[9]

Transatlantic services to the US

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 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 that year. In 1974, a major increase in fuel prices had a dramatic effect on transit traffic.

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.[10]

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 passenger 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 U.S. and Canada.

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

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 11 September 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.

As of November 2008, approximately 1.2 million troops have passed through Shannon since the beginning of the Iraq War.[12] 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.

In 2012–2013, the military flight contracts are held by Omni Air International, which uses Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft, [13] Sun Country Airlines, which uses 737-800 aircraft, and North American Airlines, which uses Boeing 757s.

In 2014, only Omni Air International operate troop transit flights, with an average of 1-2 flights per day

In January 2014, 79-year-old writer and anti-war activist Margaretta D'Arcy was sentenced to three months in prison for scaling the perimeter fence of Shannon Airport in October 2012 in protest at the use of the airport by the US military. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Independent TD Clare Daly have called for her release.

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 (CIA) 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. Casement Aerodrome has seen similar claims. The United States and Ireland have denied these allegations.[14]


East-facing side of the terminal building
The United States immigration booths at Shannon prior to the opening of the new Customs and Border Protection facilities (November 2008).


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 20 aircraft parking stands. The car-parks can hold 4,200 cars.[15]

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.[16]

Aer Rianta International, a subsidiary of the Dublin Airport Authority, has its head office on the grounds of Shannon Airport.[17] When Eirjet existed, its head office was located on the grounds of Shannon Airport.[18]

US 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.[19] 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. 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.[19]

As of September 2016, Shannon Airport also is the first and only airport outside the US to offer US Customs and Border Protection to private aircraft.[20]

British Airways flights to New York City

British Airways operates a daily (twice-daily until October 2016) 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 and remaining flight BA001 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 meant passengers on the later flight BA003 had to pass immigration and customs at JFK.[21] The later flight is however cancelled altogether by October 2016.[22]

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Shannon:[23]

Aer Lingus London-Heathrow
Seasonal: Faro, Lanzarote, Málaga
Aer Lingus
operated by ASL Airlines Ireland
Boston, New York-JFK
Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
Birmingham, Edinburgh
Air Europa Seasonal charter: Lanzarote,[24] Palma de Mallorca[24]
American Airlines Seasonal: Philadelphia
ASL Airlines Ireland Seasonal charter: Dubrovnik,[25] Reus[25]
Austrian Airlines Seasonal charter: Vienna[26]
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: New York-JFK
Helvetic Airways Seasonal: Zürich
Lufthansa Seasonal: Frankfurt (begins 29 April 2017)[27]
Ryanair Berlin-Schönefeld, Fuerteventura, Kaunas, Kraków, Lanzarote, London-Gatwick, London-Stansted, Málaga, Manchester, Tenerife-South, Warsaw-Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Alicante, Faro, Palma de Mallorca
Scandinavian Airlines Seasonal: Stockholm-Arlanda (begins 1 August 2017)[28]
Travel Service Seasonal charter: Marseille,[29] Paris-Charles de Gaulle[29]
United Airlines Newark
Seasonal: Chicago-O'Hare


DHL Aviation
operated by ASL Airlines Ireland
East Midlands
FedEx Feeder
operated by ASL Airlines Ireland
Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Turkish Airlines Cargo Atlanta, Chicago-O'Hare, Istanbul-Atatürk, New York-JFK
UPS Airlines
operated by Star Air (Maersk)
Cologne/Bonn, Dublin


Passenger numbers

Shannon Airport passenger totals 2000-2015 (millions)
Updated: 20 January 2016.
Year Total
2005 3,302,046 Increase32.1%
2006 3,639,046 Increase10.2%
2007 3,620,623 Decrease0.5%
2008 3,169,529 Decrease12.5%
2009 2,794,563 Decrease11.8%
2010 1,755,885 Decrease37.2%
2011 1,625,453 Decrease7.4%
2012 1,394,781 Decrease14.2%
2013 1,440,034 Increase3.2%
2014 1,639,315 Increase13.8%
2015[31] 1,714,872 Increase4.6%

Busiest routes

20 busiest routes at Shannon Airport (2015)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % change
1 London Heathrow 235,083 Increase 0.4
2 London Stansted 233,353 Increase 15.3
3 New York JFK 123,041 Increase 3.1
4 London Gatwick 111,197 Increase 7.3
5 Manchester 105,635 Increase 56.0
6 Newark 96,707 Decrease 3.4
7 Boston 94,451 Increase 3.1
8 Faro 49,970 Increase 4.0
9 Málaga 41,688 Decrease 5.5
10 Paris Beauvais 40,693 Increase 54.6
11 Philadelphia 38,624 Increase 41.5
12 Kraków 37,645 Increase 36.7
13 Wrocław 36,818 Increase 9.2
14 Warsaw Modlin 36,169 Increase 39.8
15 Lanzarote 35,539 Increase 15.5
16 Palma 30,585 Decrease 4.0
17 Berlin Schönefeld 30,568 Increase 26.4
18 Kaunas 28,309 Increase 833.4
19 Alicante 27,038 Increase 23.4
20 Chicago O'Hare 26,936 Decrease 11.9
Source: Central Statistics Office[32]

Ground transportation


N18 near Shannon Airport exit

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). It is approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Limerick and around 85 kilometres (53 mi) from Galway to the south . Dublin is approximately 223 kilometres (139 mi) away and Cork is around 125 kilometres (78 mi) away.


Shannon Airport is served daily by 136 Bus Éireann routes and 6 JJ Kavanagh & Sons routes.[33]

Bus Services at Shannon Airport
Means of transport Operator Service Destination Website
– BusBus É
Bus É
Bus É
Bus ÉireannX51Galway
Bus É
JJ KavanaghT1Dublin[34]


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

Car Hire

Car hire is available in the arrivals hall of the terminal building, with five car rental firms operating at the airport.[35] Private-hire coaches and buses are available from many operators such as Eirebus;[36] these need to be pre-booked and can transport passengers to any destination throughout Ireland.

Car Parking

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.

For many years a rail link to the airport (as a spur from the nearby Limerick–Ennis line) has been proposed,[37][38] but nothing has materialised. The nearest major stations (Ennis railway station and Limerick railway station) require bus or taxi to connect with. Sixmilebridge is the nearest station to the airport. *Official site Irish Rail -train timetables, bookings and operations

Accidents and incidents

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


  1. EINN – SHANNON/International (PDF). AIP and charts from the Irish Aviation Authority.
  2. 1 2 "Shannon Airport halts five years of passenger decline in first year as independent entity. Shannon Airport". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  3. "Monthly Review – Irish Aviation Authority". Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  4. "State Airports Act 2004". Irish Statute Book. 21 July 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  5. "O'Connell abú ag Aerfort na Sionna" (in Irish). RTÉ.ie. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  6. Worldwide Shuttle Landing Site information
  7. "Bank of Ireland Runway Night Run". Shannon Airport. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  8. 1 2 Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9.
  9. "International Cigarette Prices". Retrieved August 23, 2016. with an overview of international prices for a box of 20 Marlboro cigarettes
  10. "Growth – Shannon recovers passenger throughput". IHS Jane's 360. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  11. "High Court of Ireland Decisions". Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  12. "Almost 200,000 troops use Shannon". 6 November 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  13. "The US Military's International Airlift Contracts". Defense Industry Daily, LLC. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  14. "Gilmore accepts US assurance of no rendition flights through Shannon". 20 September 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  15. Shannon Airport Information
  16. Airport Facts Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. "Contact Us." Aer Rianta International. Retrieved on 7 July 2010.
  18. "home." Eirjet. 1 July 2006. Retrieved on 15 September 2010.
  19. 1 2 - Shannon Is First Euro Airport with Full U.S. Pre-Clearance 5 August 2009
  20. - US Preclearance for Private Aircraft retrieved 17 September 2016
  21. - BA003 New York service to lose US pre-clearance at Shannon 6 September 2012
  23. - Route Map retrieved 20 November 2016
  24. 1 2 "Falcon Holidays". Falcon Holidays. 24 May 2015.
  25. 1 2 "Summer Flights by day". Shannon Airport. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  26. "Timetable: Wien - Shannon". myAustrian Holidays. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  27. "Lufthansa announces new Shannon-Frankfurt route". RTÉ. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  29. 1 2 "Summer Flights by day". Shannon Airport. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  30. "Shannon Airport Traffic Figures". Shannon Airport. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  32. "CSO Ireland Database – Air Passenger movement". Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  33. "Shannon Airport Information". Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  35. "Car Rental". Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  37. Deegan, Gordon. "Car Rental". Shannon Airport. Dublin. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  38. Woulfe, Jimmy. "Iarnród Éireann to look at feasibility of rail link to Shannon Airport". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  39. "Accident description: Lockheed Constellation N86505". Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  40. "Clipper Empress of the Skies Accident Investigation Report". Retrieved 23 September 2010.

Media related to Shannon Airport at Wikimedia Commons

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.