Shannon Airport History

airport gateway image, people walking with suitcases and glass windows in the background

Shannon Airport History

 The wording of the airport in the Irish language is Aerfort na Sionna, the airport is one of Ireland’s international airports. The code for the airport is SNN.

Shannon is one of Ireland’s three busiest airports. Cork and Dublin are among Ireland’s other main airports. Shannon Airport is situated in County Clare in the west of Ireland and it is the most western in Europe. The west of Ireland has some beautiful scenery and wonderful landscape. In terms of airports all over the world, travelling in and out of Shannon have many benefits, it’s a very user-friendly airport and you won’t be waiting large amounts of time queuing to check in.

SNN opened in 1945 and saw the first transatlantic flights from the United States to Shannon. SNN was an important stop for flights to be able to refuel, and this meant Shannon was the ideal stop for planes from North America. SNN got much larger over the years and passenger numbers increased.

The world-famous Irish coffee was first offered by chef Joe Sheridan who came up with the idea for the drink to keep passengers warm in Foynes County Limerick. Joe Sheridan later worked at Shannon Airport. Irish coffee is available today in the terminal building.

SNN has the largest runway in Ireland and can cater for very large aircraft including the Antonov An 225 aircraft which has seven stories and a wingspan of 88 meters. The largest collection of diecast model aircraft is on display in the terminal building. The first-ever duty-free shop opened in 1947. In 1951 the duty-free shop began selling alcoholic products to passengers. 

The United States government begin pre-clearance at SNN in the 1980s. This special agreement service was extended to agricultural and customs services which makes SNN the only airport in the whole world with such services.  There is only one terminal on-site and free Wifi is available to everybody.

The area has seen many high-profile visitors. Every American president since John F Kennedy has landed at Shannon Airport. Many VIPs have visited Shannon Airport including, Mick Jagger, Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Bob Hope, Mohammed Ali, Mark Walberg, Princess Grace, Marilyn Monroe and Pope John Paul II and film star Tom Hanks.

SNN provides top-quality VIP services throughout the year. The terminal building is easy to get to via the new and improved Irish roads network, see our arriving by road page and departing by road in the drop-down menu for more info.

Shannon Airport has regular flights to America and flights to Europe. In 2015 total passenger numbers for the year were 1,714,782 with transatlantic flights accounting for 381,150. In 2017 passenger numbers were 1,751,500, with flights to Great Britain accounting for 711,810 flights that year. The busiest route is London Heathrow with numbers of 274,623 in 2017/2018. SNN is an important part of the local economy. The area employs 13,600 people directly and indirectly. A government report released in 2018 stated that the economic impact of the midwest region of Ireland was 983 million euros annually.

There are a large number of American companies operating headquarters in Ireland. Large multinational companies like Johnson and Johnston, Google, Edward Life Sciences and many more. Shannon Airport is an important gateway to the Midwest region of Ireland.

Getting to and from SNN is straightforward with Bus Eireann operating good bus services. Tickets can be booked online via their website. There is a taxi desk at Shannon Airport.

Transport companies and limousine companies operate services from the terminal building also. There are a large number of car rental companies also operating in the terminal building. Car rental is a good option for holidaying in Ireland. See our car rental page.

We hope you find the website information useful, we welcome any queries or comments by email on

FAO – Frequently Asked Questions

When was Shannon airport opened?? 

Answer – SNN was opened in the year 1945. It’s located in the west of Ireland. 

What airport has the longest runway in Ireland?

Answer – Shannon Airport has the longest runway in Ireland, the runway is 3,200 metres long, and it is the only runway in Ireland that can handle large aircraft like the Antonov AN 225, which is the largest aircraft in the world. 


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