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Shannon Airport
Article By Colm Fitzgerald

Shannon Airport (C) Byron Smith
Shannon Airport (C) Byron Smith

 

When Landplanes were starting to emerge into the aviation industry some 60 years ago, a suitable site had to be located for these aircraft to operate. Flying boats operated from the port of Foynes on the river Shannon. A site was found in a place call Rineanna (Pronounced rhine-anna), which although had some marshland was only at 40 feet above sea level and had flat terrain. Work began on the airport and the airport was open and serviceable by 1945. First airlines to use Shannon were BOAC and Pan American. As the years went on, Shannon became a stopping point for aircraft incapable of making the Atlantic crossing non-stop. And so the Shannon stopover was formed.

The stopover meant that approx 60% of flights Ireland-US had to originate, terminate or stop in Shannon.

Approx 40 years ago, a new 3200-metre runway was built. It is coincidence that my own grandfather was foreman of the project. The runway is currently the longest in Ireland and is the only in Ireland capable of landing the Airbus A380[1]. Aer Lingus operated many flights from Shannon to the US for many years, but sadly their involvement has been small over the last few years. New York (JFK), Boston and Chicago have been destinations served. They also serve Dublin and Heathrow. Dublin is operated on aircraft operating on the stopover rule, so when the stopover is phased out Shannon will have no service to the Irish capital. American Airlines last year inaugurated their Shannon-Boston service; which was first operated when Shannon opened using a Lockheed Constellation. Continental has operated transatlantic flights to Newark for several years, and has just added an extra flight (via Dublin). Delta operate a service to Atlanta (via Dublin) However, they are to add a dedicated Shannon-Atlanta-Shannon service for the coming summer. This will mean that Dublin will not have its own service to Atlanta. The Shannon route has had very high loads. The airline has also opened flights to New York (JFK) via Dublin for this summer.

The Shannon stopover is to be phased out in 2007, meaning that carriers can operate to Dublin with no obligation to service Shannon. The Shannon Airport Authority has introduced a scheme to attract new carriers. The scheme offers a 30%+ discount on landing fees for carriers flying to the US year round from Shannon. Present operators will obviously get a discount, however US airways could be persuaded to increase their Philadelphia service to year round, and United are also interested in flying to Shannon.

Ryanair is now the largest carrier in Shannon- Prior to last may they operated a commendable number of routes, however they have recently expanded their network: Glasgow (Prestwick), Liverpool, East Midlands, Luton, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Bristol, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfurt (Hahn), Paris (Beavuais), Brussels (South), Stockholm (Skavasta), Nantes, Malaga, Murcia, Rome, Wroclaw, Barcelona (Girona) and Milan (Bergamo) are serviced by the carrier. However, the Hamburg and Skavasta routes are to be dropped due to poor loadings. Michael O'Leary, Ryanair CEO indicates that a further 4 routes are to be announced soon. Further details on Shannon can be found at

Http://www.shannonairportenthusiasts.net

 

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