Situated just north of Dublin City, Dublin Airport (Aerfort Bhaile Atha Cliath in Irish) was built on the site of an old royal Air Force base at Collinstown. After the Irish Free State was established, Baldonnel Aerodrome was the airport of choice. It was used by Iona National Airways (1931) and Aer Lingus (1935) before transferring to the Collinstown site in 1940. Today Baldonnel Aerodrome is home to the Irish Army’s Air Force division.
Construction began on the new airport at Collinstown in 1937 and within a couple of years there was a grass runway, roadways, car parking facilities and electrical infrastructure constructed. The first flight from Dublin Airport took place in 1940 and soon afterwards, construction work began on a new terminal building which subsequently opened in 1941. Today this building is still used, and still stands out as an excellent piece of architecture. Designed to replicate the bridge of a ship, the building is today listed as one of the buildings that must be preserved in Ireland.
During the 1950s Dublin Airport grew and improvements were added to the airport continuously, including a longer runway and improvements to the terminals in order to deal with the expanded traffic levels. New airlines started to fly out of Dublin Airport including Sabena and British European Airways.
By 1958 Aer Lingus was flying from Dublin Airport, through Shannon Airport to America. The airport continued to evolve to keep up with the traffic levels that were increasing every year. By 1969 nearly 2million passengers had travelled through Dublin Airport.
During the early 1970s, Dublin Airport had to evolve yet again to cope with more modern aircraft and increasing passenger numbers as Aer Lingus started operating Boeing 747 aircraft. The expected explosion in growth in this industry during the 70s fail to show because of concerns over rising prices of oil and the disturbing troubles in Northern Ireland.
The 80s for Dublin Airport was a period of expansion through increased routes between the UK and Ireland alongside the servicing of the regional airports in Ireland by Aer Lingus. Examples of these are Tralee, Sligo, Shannon, Cork and Galway. By the end of the 80s passenger numbers passing through Dublin Airport had swelled to over 5million annually.
During the 1990s Dublin Airport enjoyed rapid growth in passenger levels as the Celtic Tiger meant that people in Ireland had vast amounts of expendable income for the first time. Low cost operators such as Ryan Air fed into this expanded business. With passenger levels increasing annually, the future for Dublin Airport looked to be good.