June 9th, 1959: Passenger terminal a welcome arrival for airport
FROM THE ARCHIVES: A NEW and not very inspiring, terminal building was opened at Dublin airport by SeÃ¡n Lemass in 1959 alongside the well-designed original building. A special report on the opening described the new building, which became the arrivals hall, and the developments to date at the airport. â€“ JOE JOYCE
THE FIRST page of what could be described as Chapter Two in the story of Dublin Airport was turned yesterday by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr. Lemass, when he formally opened the North Terminal. This new reinforced concrete and glass structure is much more than an extension of passenger accommodation: with the new cargo terminal on the other side of the main building, it marks the end of a chapter, and the beginning of another. The character of the airport, which has remained without substantial change since the return of peace . . . is undeniably altered.
Chapter One started during the first dark months of the Second World War, in 1940, with the opening of the beautifully proportioned airport terminal at Collinstown. The building deservedly won a gold medal for its architect, Mr (now Professor) Desmond Fitzgerald, but it could not have materialised at a less favourable period in the course of civil aviation. It was not surprising that the new airport, proud looking, and by local standards of the day enormous, should have been called a white elephant by the cynics.
Mr Fitzgeraldâ€™s design was planned to handle a maximum of 250,000 passengers per annum â€“ a fantastic goal at the time. Little more than 10,000 passengers actually used the building in its first year, and looking back now, it is interesting to wonder how many aviation enthusiasts were . . . convinced that some day the terminal would be fully utilised.
That day came all too soon. Within a few years of the end of the war the cynics were confounded: by 1951 Dublin Airport was handling 276,000 passengers a year.
The traffic continued to increase substantially each year, and it became obvious that in spite of several interior alterations designed to give more passenger handling space, another terminal was needed to avoid delays and inevitable chaos.
Studies by the Department of Industry and Commerce and by Aer Rianta, which manages the airport for the Department, led to plans being sketched out for a new passenger building on the northern flank of the main terminal. After the start of the Irish Airlines services between Dublin-Shannon and New York and Boston, it was expected that the North Terminal would become the building to be used for American and Continental flights, with all British and local services continuing to use the main terminal. No one will be sorry that this plan was dropped and that instead the new building is to be used for all arrivals.
Nothing makes an air passenger worry more than the thought that he may not be waiting in the correct place to hear the announcement about the departure of his aircraft.
There are several interesting innovations in the construction, which is of reinforced concrete with the cladding mainly glass. It is a simple, straightforward structure, with a large concourse, Customs hall, waiting rooms and snack bar, with offices for immigration, health and agriculture officers.
The Customs hall and waiting rooms are open areas divided by movable partitions to allow rapid alterations at minimum cost when changes are needed with future traffic growths.
It is at once a bright, airy building, if rather impersonal in the modern idiom. But the main impression the North Terminal will have on those passengers who will pass through it concerns the way in which they and their baggage are â€œprocessedâ€ . . . The building was planned around getting the passengers from the aircraft at one side, through Customs and immigration to the road on the other side, as quickly as possible and without fuss.