Overview & History
As the fifth largest airport in Germany, Hamburg Airport fills a much-needed roll in handling air traffic for passengers visiting northern Germany. Built in 1911, the airport is the oldest in the world that is still operating in its original location. Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin believed in the potential mass appeal of his airships and in 1910 he raised funds among the Hamburg elite in order to build an airfield capable of handling Zeppelin traffic. In 1912, a hanger to house the vast airships opened on the site with a celebratory festival.
Airplanes quickly joined the Zeppelins in utilizing the new airfield. The onset of World War I saw the airfield requisitioned by German forces for military use. A fire destroyed Count Zeppelin’s state-of-the-art airship hangar in 1916. Occupying troops then redeployed or destroyed all aircraft and hangers after the war. The airfield languished until 1919, when it was chosen by airline Deutsche Luftreederei as a flight destination. Other airlines followed suit, with business booming during the 1920s, when airline travel became fashionable among European travelers. Traffic quadrupled, leading to the building of the first passenger terminal in 1929. It housed airport administration, handled passengers, cargo, and even had a restaurant.
The years of rapid growth halted suddenly with the beginning of World War II. The airport, which had transitioned to handling only fixed-wing aircraft, was again requisitioned by the military for use as a staging ground in aerial combat deployment. Using clever Luftwaffe camouflaging techniques, the airfield remained undamaged by Allied bombing raids throughout the war. When the British took possession of the airfield at the close of World War II, it was nearly intact and still functional.
In 1946 the British, who remained in control of northern Germany, renamed the airport as Hamburg Airport and instituted civilian flights under the auspices of British European Airways. The airport played an integral part in the Berlin Airlift in 1948, the only civilian airport to do so. During the 1950s, the Hamburg Airport became an intercontinental hub, with flights to and from Asia, Africa and North and South America. By the 1960s, Hamburg Airport saw more than one million travelers per year pass through its system as air travel became more popular and affordable.
Hamburg Airport Amenities & Features
Today the airport sees more than 14 million passengers come through its doors every year. There are two runways capable of handling Airbus traffic and two terminals connected by a plaza that contains a train station, pharmacy, shopping venues and the baggage claim area. The architecture of the roof of each terminal is a direct mimicking of the wing of an aircraft. The high ceilings and imbedded skylights give the structures a light and airy feel. Terminal One was completed in 2005 and utilizes the latest in green technology, such as a rain water capture system.
Passengers are able to board the convenient German rapid transit rail system, or S-Bahn, from the airport plaza area for the ride into Hamburg five miles away. The airport is also a stop on several city bus routes in the area and is serviced by taxis and hotel shuttle buses. Sheep once grazed on the wide fields surrounding the airport as a means of keeping the grass manicured. Today those fields have become parking for 10,000 automobiles and the airport maintains a convenient online parking reservation system to ensure a space for passenger cars even during times of high traffic.