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Shannon Airport Facts

The history of Europe’s most westerly airport spans 80 years and is a major part of daily life in the Shannon region.

From humble beginnings Shannon Airport has grown from three simple grass runways in 1930’s Ireland to become one of Europe’s most unique transatlantic airports, a leader in airline innovation, and a key driver of business in Ireland’s Mid-West.
Did you know? 

  1. Open 365 days a year, Shannon is the most westerly airport in Europe and in the 1940s and 1950s was the primary technical transit stop for all airlines crossing the Atlantic to and from Europe.
  2. Shannon Airport has the longest runway in Ireland at 3,200 metres and is the only Irish airport that can accommodate the world’s largest jet the Antonov AN 225. The enormous aircraft stands at seven stories high, with a wing span of 88 metres.
  3. Every US President since John F Kennedy’s visit in 1963 has been welcomed at Shannon Group’s International airport company, Shannon Airport. 
  4. High profile visitors to Shannon Airport include; Nelson Mandela, Princess Grace, Jackie Kennedy, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Stars who have visited Shannon Airport include Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly, Bob Hope, Mohammed Ali, Mick Jagger and Tom Hanks.
  5. The world’s first Duty Free shop was established at Shannon Airport in 1947. It began as a small kiosk staffed by one woman and today has grown into a multi-billion dollar global retail industry.
  6. Shannon is home to the world-famous Irish coffee, invented by Chef Joe Sheridan in 1942 at the original airport location in Foynes, a sea-plane base for transatlantic flights. It was invented to keep passengers warm.
  7. Shannon Airport was the first airport in the world, outside of the Americas, to provide full US Preclearance facilities (5th August 2009), making arrival in the US easier and faster. This means visitors arriving in the US are considered to be domestic passengers.
  8. The world’s largest private collection of diecast model aircraft is on permanent display at Shannon Airport.
  9. Shannon Airport was the first airport in Europe to open an airport sensory room.
  10. In 2019, Shannon Airport celebrates the 80th anniversary of the first passenger aircraft landing (11th July 1939) - a Belgian airliner (a tri-motor Savoia Marchetti S-73 of Sabena). 
  11. In addition to its extensive European and UK services, Shannon Airport is the only airport along the Wild Atlantic Way touring route to offer transatlantic flights, with six airlines operating services to seven destinations.


  • Aviation Sustainability & Environment Award
    Aviation Industry Awards 2015

  • Best International Access 
    Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2015

  • Airport Achievement Award 2014/15
    European Regions Airline Association

  • Category Winner Best Airport Marketing Award
    World Routes

  • Airport Achievement Award
    Irish Aviation Industry Awards

  • Category Winner Best Airport Marketing Award
    World Routes

  • Airport Achievement Award
    Irish Aviation Industry Awards

  • Best Brand
    Chambers Ireland InBusiness Recognition Awards

  • Best CSR & Community Award
    Limerick Chamber of Commerce Business Awards

  • Category Winner Best Airport Marketing Award
    World Routes

  • Category Winner Best Airport Marketing Award 
    Routes Europe

  •  Airport of the Year Award 
    European Regions Airline Association (ERA)

  • Shannon Duty Free - Tourism Retail Store of the Year
    Retail Excellence Ireland

  • Shannon Duty Free - Top 5 Store of the Year
    Retail Excellence Ireland