We are proud of our roots and excited about our future.

The duty-free was just one of many firsts for Shannon Airport

apron 1960's

  • Late 1930s, transatlantic flights used a flying boat terminal at Foynes on the south side of the Shannon Estuary
  • By 1945 the country’s first transatlantic airport was established at Shannon to meet the demands of developing aircraft technology with a permanent runway and airport
  • 16 September 1945 the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am DC-4, landed at Shannon from New York City.
  • 24 October 1945, the first scheduled commercial flight, an American Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through the airport
  • 1947, it became world’s first duty-free airport.
  • By the 1960s many international carriers used Shannon and it became known as the gateway between Europe and the Americas – few aircraft could make the journey without refuelling here.
  • 1986 a United States border preclearance facility was opened here, eliminating the need to go through immigration on arrival in the United States.
  • November 2008, it was announced that customs and agriculture inspections would be added.
  • 1 March 2010, Shannon Airport became the first airport outside the US to offer US Customs and Border Protection to private aircraft, yet another world’s first

Shannon Free Zone – the world’s first free trade zone1939 aerial

Shannon Free Zone was established in 1959 and was the world’s first free trade zone. At the time, Shannon’s success depended on transatlantic flights stopping to refuel here. But advances in aeronautic technology meant that those days were numbered as commercial aircraft would soon have the range to bypass the airport.

Shannon Airport’s director at that time, Brendan O’Regan, submitted a proposal to the government to establish a distinct manufacturing zone with special tax incentives. This would create much needed jobs and specific Shannon Airport bound air traffic. The site adjacent to the airport was established in 1959, and expanded some years later to include Smithstown.

Shannon Group – A Growth Engine for Ireland – watch video.


Shannon Airport, Co Clare.
t: +353 (0)61 712000 e: info@shannongroup.ie
A Shannon Group Company