Oldest Airports in the World

10 Oldest Airports in the World

Airports are a vital part of the global aviation industry, connecting people and goods worldwide. For centuries, airports have been a key means of transportation, and the oldest airports in the world are still in operation today. 

From the first ever commercial flight in 1914 to the first international routes in the 1930s, the airports in this list have seen it all.

From the lush green plains of India to the bustling city of London, these airports have been graced by the wings of thousands of planes over the years. From the history of their development to the stories of their passengers, these airports are the most iconic in aviation history.

Let’s explore the 10 oldest airports and the stories behind them.

10. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Year Opened: 1916
Operator: Royal Schiphol Group
Elevation: -9.84 ft.
Location: Schiphol, Netherlands

Amsterdam Schiphol Airportphoto source: Wikipedia

Tens of millions of travelers pass through Schiphol Airport each year, whether changing to another aircraft or being eager to visit Amsterdam’s attractions. Most of those travelers are unaware that they are departing from one of the world’s oldest airports.

The Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was initially constructed in 1916 as a military airport on some land that had been drained (this would be problematic in the airport’s early years as arriving planes frequently got stuck in the mud).

The Amsterdam airport was in top shape when the Netherlands hosted the Olympic Games in 1928. After being completely destroyed during World War Two, Schiphol was quickly rebuilt to serve as a hub for travelers and a significant tourist attraction.

Did You Know?

2016 saw the royal seal bestowed upon Schiphol Group, the airport’s corporate entity. When they reached their 100th anniversary, His Majesty Willem-Alexander awarded it to them.

9. Rome Ciampino Airport

Year Opened: 1916
Operator: Atlantia
Elevation: 427 ft.
Location: Ciampino, Italy‎

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the world’s oldest airports is Ciampino in Rome. It was built in 1916 as a military airport and opened to the public in 1947. Until 1961, Ciampino Airport was the sole airport serving the throbbing metropolis of Rome, but the aging runway was not equipped to receive large international planes.

Ciampino Airport was replaced by the far more contemporary Leonardo Da Vinci Airport when it opened. This is unique for historic airports because it just experienced a revival.

Did You Know?

This airport has been largely relegated to the past and business travel, but it is now a crucial hub for low-cost airlines flying to Rome.

8. Don Mueang International Airport Bangkok

Year Opened: 1914
Operator: Royal Thai Air Force
Elevation: 9 ft.
Location: Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, Thailand

photo source: Wikipedia

The second airport in Bangkok, Don Mueang International Airport, commonly referred to as Don Muang, has the second-highest passenger volume in Thailand annually. It started working in 1914, and in 1924 it started doing business.

The ancient airport grew throughout the years and was Thailand’s major airport until Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport opened in 2006.

It continues to be Thailand’s second busiest airport and the hub for low-cost carriers. It mostly does domestic flights. T1 is the international terminal, and T2 is the domestic terminal.

Did You Know?

Nearly 38 million people used this airport in 2017.

7. Poznan-Lawica Henryk Wieniawski Airport

Year Opened: 1913
Operator: Poznań Ławica Airport Ltd.
Elevation: 308 ft.
Location: Poznań, Poland

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Poznan-Lawica Henryk Wieniawski Airport is among the oldest in the world. The German government opened it in 1913. Because Poznan’s airport was once off-limits to civilian travel, many people are unaware of its existence.

The Germans constructed it on a formerly forested area, which explains why there are no buildings in the vicinity of Poznan-Lawica’s current runways.

From the time of its construction in 1913 until 2009, it was solely used for military missions. Although Poznan-Lawica Airport still reserves a portion of the airfield for the military, it now receives several million passengers yearly from the general public.

Did You Know?

The airport was originally built as an airfield for German military aircraft.

6. Bremen Airport

Year Opened: 1913
Operator: Flughafen Bremen GmbH
Elevation: 14 ft.
Location: Bremen, Germany

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

By officially approving the Aviation Association’s use of the location as an aviation station in 1913, the Bremen Senate led to the establishment of the airport. KLM began offering flights from there to Amsterdam as early as 1920.

Later, it began offering flights to cities like Brazil and New York, and in 1989 it passed the one million passenger mark. A tiny aviation and space exploration museum is also located inside the airport and features the German capital’s Spacelab space laboratory’s initial module and the Junkers W33 Bremen aircraft.

Did You Know?

Presently, it transports over 2.4 million people who leave the German metropolis for various locations.

5. Bucharest Airport Aurel Vlaicu

Year Opened: 1912
Operator: Compania Naţională Aeroporturi București S.A.
Elevation: 297 ft.
Location: Bucharest, Romania

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

It is situated in the Băneasa neighborhood of the Romanian capital and was established in 1912. Until 1968, when the Otopeni Airport (now Henri International Airport Coandă) was completed, it served as Bucharest’s sole airport.

The Băneasa airport’s close proximity to the city center and the resulting rise in pollution and noise prompted the decision to construct a new airport.

This airport bears the name Aurel Vlaicu in honor of the Romanian engineer, inventor, pilot, and aircraft constructor who is regarded as one of the forefathers of modern aviation. Up until 1968, Romania’s primary international airport was Aurel Vlaicu.

Because Aurel Vlaicu is too tiny to handle international planes, commercial traffic moves to the newer Henri Coanda International Airport, which is still used for business travel.

Did You Know?

Aurel Vlaicu International was Romania’s second busiest airport until March 2012, when it became a business airport.

4. Hamburg Airport

Year Opened: 1911
Operator: Flughafen Hamburg GmbH
Elevation: 52 ft.
Location: Hamburg, Germany

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via qwesy qwesy

Hamburg Airport is the oldest airport in Germany and the oldest in all of continental Europe. It was inaugurated in 1911. Zeppelins were first used at Hamburg Airport before it expanded to accommodate more contemporary aircraft.

The 1964-built Terminal 1 and the 1964-built Terminal 2 are its two terminals (opened in 2002). A total of 14 million passengers can transit through both terminals each year.

Until 1945, it served as a military airfield before being taken over by the British army. The airport quickly developed in the 1950s and 1960s to handle the increase in passenger and freight traffic. Hamburg Airport is one of Germany’s most advanced airports despite its age.

The airport currently boasts sleek, contemporary terminals and a consistent rail connection to the city thanks to a huge reconstruction project that refurbished it between 2001 and 2009.

Did You Know?

Since 1962, Hamburg Airport has been the busiest airport in Germany.

3. Madrid-Cuatro Vientos Airport

Year Opened: 1911
Operator: Aena
Elevation: 2,269 ft.
Location: Madrid, Spain

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Madrid Cuatro Vientos, the third-oldest airport in the world and one of three civil airports serving Madrid, is also the oldest airport in Spain. It is 8 km southwest of the city center and mostly serves general aviation, with around 35,000 movements annually.

Before beginning to be utilized as a civil airport, the airport was first built as a military aviation base. The airport is mostly utilized by helicopters, piston aircraft, medium turboprops, and private jets due to its short runway, which makes it unsuitable for major airliners.

Did You Know?

In addition to serving as the home base for helicopters used to monitor traffic, the airport still has a portion reserved for the military.

2. Shoreham Airport

Year Opened: 1910
Operator: Cyrrus Ltd.
Elevation: 7 ft.
Location: Shoreham-by-Sea, UK

photo source: Wikipedia Commons

In West Sussex, England, there is Brighton City Airport, sometimes called Shoreham Airport. It was established in 1910, making it one of the first commercial airports in the world and the second-oldest airport in the United Kingdom.

Privately owned light aircraft, flying schools, light aircraft repair, and helicopter maintenance all make use of it. Several companies offer flights for tourism, pleasure, and aviation instruction.

At this airport, you can take a flight in one of the two Harvard T-6 training planes from World War II. A true gem from the past.

Did You Know?

The airport, which was then known as Shoreham Airport, was acquired by Brighton City Airport Ltd (BCAL) in May 2014, taking over from Albemarle. Upon its acquisition, the airport was given the name City of Brighton (Shoreham) Airport.

1. College Park Airport

Year Opened: 1909
Operator: Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission
Elevation: 48 ft.
Location: Maryland, USA

photo source: Flickr via Preservation Maryland

College Park Airport is a small airport located in College Park, Maryland, and is considered the oldest airport in the world. It has two runways and is home to the Maryland Air National Guard, which owns the airfield.

The airport was originally built as part of the War Department’s Air Transport Command (ATC) flight training program for military pilots during World War II.

The United States Army Air Forces used the facility as an advanced flying school from 1942 until 1947 (when it became known as the University of Maryland School of Aeronautics). After World War II ended in 1945, the school continued to train pilots until 1951, when it was closed due to budget cuts.

The facility was then used by private aircraft companies, which used it as a maintenance base for their aircraft. 

Did You Know?

Tailwind Air had plans to start a regular flight service in 2022 aboard a Cessna Grand Caravan from College Park to Manhattan Skyport Marina on Manhattan’s East Side. Due to security worries raised by the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration, the service was delayed.



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