Dublin Airport Opens

19th January 1940
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Dublin Airport opened for business on Friday 19th January 1940 with a single flight to Liverpool.

Aer Lingus had been operating from Baldonnel from 1936 and had moved its operations to the new Dublin Airport in January 1940. Shortly after 9am on opening day, an Aer Lingus Lockheed 14 aircraft took off from the grass runway close to the original passenger terminal, which was still being built at that time.

Its award-winning passenger terminal (designed by Desmond FitzGerald and associates to cater to 100,000 passengers per year) was the key passenger facility at Dublin Airport up until 1970 and part of it is still in use today.

  • Works began at Dublin Airport (originally known as Collinstown Airport) in 1937.
  • Collinstown had been a base for the British Royal Air Force before the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, but the old military airfield had fallen into disrepair by the late 1930s.

With war raging throughout Europe, Dublin Airport’s only service was to Liverpool’s Speke Airport or occasionally to Manchester’s Barton Aerodrome. Dublin Airport’s first scheduled service to London commenced in November 1945, with a two and a half hour direct flight to Croydon Airport, and airmail services were added in 1946. 

In the 1950s and 1960s the airport was a destination in its own right, as people travelled out to Collinstown to see the aircraft and to dine in its restaurant, which was said to be one of the best in the country. Guided tours of the airport were popular and Dublin Airport featured regularly in postcards of the time.

Dublin Airport Timeline

  • 1936 – Irish Government announces plans for a civilian airport at Collinstown
  • 1938 – Work begins on the new terminal building
  • 1940 – Dublin Airport opens with one flight per day to Liverpool
  • 1945 – First Dublin Airport-London service begins to Croydon
  • 1947 – KLM starts Dublin-Manchester-Amsterdam service
  • 1948 – Completion of concrete runways
  • 1949 – Passenger numbers reach 200,000 per year
  • 1958 – First scheduled transatlantic service as passenger numbers top 500,000 per year
  • 1959 – North Terminal opens
  • 1963 – Welcomes more than 1 million passengers for the first time
  • 1972 – Terminal 1 opens
  • 1989 – Passenger numbers reach 5 million
  • 1990 – Celebrates 50th birthday
  • 1997 – Welcomes more than 10 million passengers
  • 2008 – Passenger numbers reach a record 23.5 million
  • 2010 – Terminal 2 opens
  • 2014 – Welcomes 21.7 million passengers
  • 2015 – Celebrates 75th birthday

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