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Amsterdam’s airport is not part of Amsterdam, now, it does not lie on Amsterdam soil, it’s location is on land that belongs to the municipality of Haarlemmermeer.

They bear the responsibility for what goes on there, not the city of Amsterdam. On the other hand, (Haarlemmermeer) does not own the airport, the state does, together with the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. I know, it’s complicated.

1920: the earliest line services
The first plane that landed on Schiphol did so in October 1916.

However, it wasn’t until after the first world war that the fist regular line services were set up.

The first one was to London in 1920. The Germans used a part of the airport during World war 2, the part they hadn’t bombed.

When the second world war was finally over it took quite a bit of work to get the place operating again.

Schiphol airport is one big circus, but easy to get to. By train that is, don’t try the bus, not from Amsterdam. The train stops below the arrival and departure lounges. There’s also plenty of parking space available around the airport. The WEBSITE of the aerodrome will inform you of all departure and arrival times of every airline company that uses its facilities.

Runways, start- and take-off

The Buitenveldert runway
The Kaag runway
The Oost runway
The Aalsmeer runway
The Zwanenburg runway
The Polder runway

It looks like a seventh runway is in the making.

The Number of passengers that used the airport in:

Year   passengers
1920   440
1928   10.000
1936   100.000
1959   1.000.000
1967   3.000.000
1970   5.000.000
1979   10.000.000
1989   15.000.000
1993   20.000.000
1995   25.000.000
1996   27.000.000
1997   31.000.000
1999   36.000.000
2002   40.000.000
2006   45.000.000
2008   47.000.000
2009   43.000.000 (a crisis year and the introduction of airport tax.)

The airport wishes to increase its number of passengers to about 600.000 a year. It faces stiff competition from both London and Frankfurt.

While a new runway will have to be constructed to be able to process that many people, it looks like that won’t be enough, a new terminal building may also have to be built.

However, right now, that’s not a priority.

The when’s and hows are not entirely clear yet, it won’t be easy for Schiphol to face the ever-increasing competition.

Already many Dutchmen living in the Eastern part of the country find it much cheaper to use a German airport instead.

For a family, the difference can be as much as 150 euros. For example, Schiphol airport’s services and tax cost a passenger twice as much as those of Barcelona airport.

It looks like a greater and fairer Europe is still a fair way off.


In 2006 Minister Gerrit Zalm wanted to sell the airport but the city of Amsterdam and the Dutch airline companies went against his proposal, they were afraid that privatisation would drive up prices and them be at the whims of private shareholders looking for excessive profits.

This was probably written before the banking crises. Now we know it’s also bonuses that company directors assign to themselves that can wreck a business.

Our minister was not amused, he huffed and puffed but in the end, he had to back down.

He did leave with a threat that one day Amsterdam would rue that day and be presented with the bill for its insolence.

Schiphol airport is window number 35 on the Canon of Amsterdam.