Europe and the US are home to most of the world’s 10 oldest airports. Airport-technology.com lists the world’s 10 oldest airports still in operation.
College Park Airport, US
College Park Airport (KCGS), in the city of College Park, Maryland, US, is the world’s oldest airport in operation, established in 1909 when Wilbur Wright arrived at the field to train two military officers in the US Army. The airport is situated in the city of College Park, Maryland, US, and currently serves as one of the gateway airports between Washington, DC and Prince George’s County.
The airport, popularly known as the ‘cradle of aviation’, was acquired by the Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) in 1973. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The airport features a single runway measuring 2,600ft long and 60ft wide. Parking is offered for more than 100 airplanes including tenant and transient aircraft. Major facilities at the airport include fuelling, weather briefing and a pilot lounge. The historic hangar on the field now houses the Special Operations Division of Prince George County Police.
Hamburg Airport, Germany
The world’s second oldest commercial airport, Hamburg Airport is located 8.5km away from the city centre of Hamburg, Germany. Established in 1911, the airport is currently the oldest in Germany.
Hamburg Airport was largely expanded under a major renovation programme between 2001 and 2009. The €356m project added two new terminals, wide access roads, parking spaces, and new metro rail connection transforming it into one of Europe’s most modern airports.
The airport now witnesses approximately 13 million passengers each year and 115 domestic and international airlines carrying to over 60 destinations. The two runways and aircraft parking facilities at the airport are capable of handling an Airbus A380. The airport is home for 250 businesses employing about 15,000 personnel.
Bucharest Baneasa ‘Aurel Vlaicu’ International Airport, Romania
Bucharest ‘Aurel Vlaicu’ Airport (BBU), also known as Baneasa Airport, is situated in Baneasa district, 8.5km from the city of Bucharest, Romania. While the first flights at the BBU began in 1909, the establishment of a flight school at the site officially made it an airport in 1912.
Baneasa was the only international airport in Romania until Henri Coanda International Airport was built in 1968. The airport became home to one of the world’s earliest aviation companies, the French-Romanian Company for Air Navigation (CFRNA) in 1920.
The terminal building, which was opened in 1952, currently serves the users of the airport and retains its status as a city landmark. The BBU was converted into a dedicated business airport in 2012 as the facilities were inadequate to handle the huge commercial traffic and there was no scope for expansion.
Bremen Airport, Germany
Bremen Airport (BRE), also known as City Airport Bremen, is located 3.5km away from the city of Bremen in Northern Germany. Established in 1913, it is one of the oldest airports in the world. The airport handled 2.6 million passengers in 2013.
The Bremen Airport was administered by the military of Germany during World War I, and was reopened for commercial traffic in 1920. A new terminal and runway facilities built in 1930s made the airport one of the most modern of its time. The airport’s current infrastructure constitutes four terminals (1, 2, 3 and E), two runways as well as cargo and ground transportation facilities.
The airport serves as a hub for Germania and Ryanair, and offers non-stop flights to 50 destinations covering 20 nations in Europe and North Africa. It is also the fastest departure airport in Europe as it is accessible from the city centre within just 11 minutes.
Rome Ciampino Airport, Italy
Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA) is located 12km off the city centre of Rome. Opened in 1916, CIA is one of the oldest airports in the world and was Rome’s only airport until the opening of Leonardo da Vinci airport in 1961.
CIA currently serves as a major hub for low-cost airlines. It has two terminals, of which the national and international terminal caters to low cost and charter carriers, while the general aviation terminal services air taxi and business aircraft.
The airport offers international flights to about 20 destinations and witnesses about 5.5 million passengers each year. Rapid traffic growth at the airport is now forcing the Italian Ministry of Transport to seek a new airport for Rome.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Netherlands
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is located in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, about 9.1km southwest of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The airport was established as a military airbase in 1916.
The airport handled first civilian aircraft in 1920 and was heavily damaged during World War II. It was partially repaired in 1945 and underwent a major terminal expansion in 1975. A series of further expansions were completed in 1990s and 2000s making the AMS one of the top five European airports.
The airport now serves as the main international airport for the Netherlands and is the fourth busiest airport in Europe by passenger movements. Schiphol now handles over 50 million passengers annually and offers flights to more than 300 destinations.
Paris-Le Bourget Airport, France
The Paris-Le Bourget Airport (LBG) began commercial operations in 1919 and is touted as the oldest airport in France. The airport is located in the commune of Le Bourget, about 7km north of Paris.
It remained as the only airport in Paris until the construction of the Orly Airport in 1932. Paris-Le Bourget underwent a major extension in 1937 in preparation for the event of the Word Fair in Paris and has been dedicated to business air traffic since 1977.
It has three runways and parking spaces that can accommodate all types of aircraft. It is one of the world’s premier airports dedicated for business aviation and is also home for over 100 maintenance firms offering equipment and services in the business aviation industry.
Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport, Australia
Sydney Airport (SYD), also known as Kingsford-Smith Airport, was officially opened in 1920 as Mascot Aerodrome. The airport is situated about 8km south of central business district of Sydney.
The aerodrome was acquired by the Australian Government and regular air services were operated between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide by mid-1920s. The civilian and military facilities at the airport were enhanced during World War II. The airport is currently operated by Sydney Airport Corporation Limited (SACL).
The infrastructure of Sydney Airport encompasses three passenger terminals, seven cargo terminals, three runways, rapid exit taxiways, and an air traffic control (ATC) tower. The airport currently handles over 37 million passengers per annum.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), established in 1920 as Speedway Field, is located within the Minneapolis and St. Paul area in Minnesota.
The airport’s first hangar was built on an 160-acre site to cater for an airmail service. The airport was renamed Wold-Chamberlain Field in 1923 and hosted the first passenger service in 1929. It was re-designated as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 1948 after which it was completely transformed into a modern airport under MSP 2010 Long-Term Comprehensive Plan.
The airport offers non-stop flights to 114 domestic and 20 international markets. The two terminals and four runways at the airport handle over 33 million passengers and more than 430,000 aircraft.
Albany International Airport, US
Albany International Airport (ALB), established in 1928, is the oldest municipal airport in the US, and is located 11km northwest of Albany, New York.
The first airmail operations at the airport began in June 1928, while passenger services began in October of the same year. The airport witnessed the movement of 180 passengers in 1929 and now handles over 2.5 million passengers per annum.
The airport’s size was extended to 800 acres as part of a major reconstruction programme in the 1940s. A recent capital redevelopment project added a new ATC tower, parking garage and cargo facility to the airport.