The History of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s rich history is very interesting when you visit Holland and Amsterdam City.
The Dutch Airport history is over 100 years old and started in the beginning of the 20th century.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol started in 1916

It all started in 1916 … more than 100 years ago! And actually earlier. In 1848, the land of hat is now Schiphol Airport was drained. In defense of this new drained piece of land a fort was built: Fort Schiphol. This fort would later become the basis of a military airport, which would lead to the biggest airport and hub in the Netherlands and Europe!

The land near the fort was purchased with permission from the Dutch Ministry of War to build a military air camp here. It soon became apparent that more space was needed and by the end of the First World War the size of the land had already increased into 76 hectares.

After the First World War

After the First World War, the airport was soon used for matters without a military function. Mail, cargo and more and more people were transported via Schiphol. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was founded in 1919 and in 1920 they had their first scheduled flight from Amsterdam to London and back again. Due to the growth of Schiphol, larger and heavier airplanes were arriving. Because the land often wasn’t drained very well, airplanes regularly got stuck and had to be pulled out of the mud. Imagine that! “This is your captain speaking: we have arrived at Schiphol Airport. Due to the muddy circumstances we are waiting for someone to pull us out, so we can continue our journey.” :-)

The improvement of Schiphol Airport continued. Civilian aviation increased and in 1928 the Olympic Games were in Amsterdam. The passenger building was also opened in that year. The first building that looks a bit like the departure halls as we know it today. But of course much smaller.

During the Second World War

During the Second World War, Schiphol was bombed several times by both the Germans and the Allies. The Germans occupied the airport during the war and used it for their military operations. When it looked like they couldn’t hold their position for much longer, they blew up important parts themselves so that Schiphol could not be used by the Allies. They left an almost unusable airport. Due to hard repair work a few months after the liberation, the first plane was able to land again in July 1945. A few months later, a large part was already operational again. But it would take until 1949 before there was another passenger building.

The airport revives in the Fifties

In 1949 it was decided that Schiphol would be and remain the largest airport in the Netherlands. The airport grew and prospered and expanded. Schiphol had a one-terminal concept. All facilities are under one roof. Three departure halls and almost all piers were accessible under that one roof.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol nowadays

Schiphol in 2019 has 5 runways. Actually 6 ones. Although the latter is mainly used for private aircrafts. Schiphol has so many runways because they want as many aircrafts as possible to take off and land against the Dutch wind. The runways are in different directions so that this can be made possible. 

Schiphol has grown rapidly and still has ambitions. In 2018, around 71 million passengers used the airport. That is almost 200,000 a day! The intention is that this will grow even further in the coming years. 

If you want to know more about the history of aviation, Schiphol and want a nice day out, Aviodrome Theme Park is a must to visit! This park is about an 1 hour drive from Schiphol Airport, which also houses a replica of the station building from 1928. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the past. A large scale to weigh your bags, piles of old KLM suitcases, nostalgic-looking plane tickets. A very nice day out for the whole family! Check out our Amsterdam Airport Transfers service if you want us to escort you from the arrivals to your destination in Amsterdam City. And read everything about arriving at the airport in our recent blog.

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