Dublin Airport opened for business on Friday, January 19, 1940 with a single flight to Liverpool’s Speke Airport. Shortly after 9am, 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.
With war raging throughout Europe, the airport was effectively mothballed for the next five years. Dublin Airport’s only service was to Liverpool or occasionally to Manchester’s Barton Aerodrome. Aer Lingus had been operating from Baldonnel from 1936 and had moved its operations to the new Dublin Airport in January 1940.
The centrepiece of the new airport was its passenger terminal, which was designed by Desmond FitzGerald and a team of young architects. The original terminal, which was designed to cater for up to 100,000 passengers per year, won several architectural awards. Its tiered design, viewing decks and balconies are reminiscent of an ocean liner, which was a common theme for airports of the 1930s.
FitzGerald’s terminal was the key passenger facility at Dublin Airport until the early 1970s and part of the original terminal is still use today as a boarding gate area. “The designers of the old terminal should be praised for creating a wonderful modern facility that passengers enjoyed for many decades and that remains an icon of the early days of Irish commercial aviation,” Vincent Harrison, Dublin Airport's managing director.
Desmond FitzGerald, was an elder brother of Dr Garret FitzGerald, teh former taoiseach, who once worked as an economist for Aer Lingus.
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 air mail services were added in 1946. Connections to other British cities and continental European destinations were added and in April 1958, Dublin Airport got its first scheduled transatlantic service to New York.