Maastricht Aachen Airport
The idea of the Maastrict Aachen Airport was originally conceived in 1919, when various cities in the province of Limburg advocated building an airfield in order to encourage the newly popular means of air travel using Zeppelins and fixed-engine aircraft. Excessive bickering over which city was to receive this honor and exactly who was going to pay for it delayed construction until 1939, when the onset of World War II halted plans entirely.
History of Maastricht Aachen Airport
In the wake of the invasion of Normandy, Allied forces required staging grounds from which to launch air raids against the forces of the Third Reich. The United States Air Force followed commands to build temporary airfields in liberated territories that were in convenient proximity to the battlefield. Groundbreaking on an airfield near newly liberated Maastrict began in 1944. During a particularly fierce tank battle, several orchards in the area had been destroyed, making an ideal location to place a runway. The neighboring town of Geleen had suffered a bombing raid in 1942 and had a quantity of useful rubble that was utilized to assist in leveling the ground. A mile-long runway was quickly constructed and by 1945, the airfield was completely operational.
Upon the end of World War II, ownership of the airfield passed to the Dutch government. In 1947, a passenger terminal was built and in 1949, the airfield added a second runway. By 1960, the airport lengthened the runway by 500 feet and installed a permanent system of illumination for evening flights.
The booming market for air travel contributed to a period of rapid growth for the airport throughout the 1960s. Dutch airline KLM maintained a permanent presence at the airport, joined by other major airlines such as Transair and Britannia Airways. The airport served as a hub for passengers traveling from parts of Europe as diverse as Turkey, England, Italy, and Switzerland. A homegrown airline, Limburg Airways, used Maastrict Aachen Airport as its base of operations. Today this airline is known as Martinair.
In 1973, a major overhaul of the airport saw the main runway extended by several hundred feet and adjustments made to the terminal and air traffic control tower. Eurocontrol, the organization that oversees air traffic control for all flights in and out of Europe, chose Maastrict Aachen airport as the site for its air traffic-analyzing center.
In 2004, a group of investors took control of the airport and fully privatized all operations, making it the first of its kind in the Netherlands. The decision was made to dismantle the second runway and use the area for cargo shipment operations. A great deal of improvement to the terminal and runway ensued, funded by the airport investors’ group, OmDV.
The airport is conveniently located off the A2 motorway a few miles outside of Maastricht, with the airport serviced by buses, taxis, and the nearby Beek-Elsoo train station. Travelers will find plentiful long or short-term parking in the environs of the airport. With its proximity to both Belgium and Germany, the Maastricht Aachen Airport makes a convenient travel hub for three countries. Among the locals, the airport is known as “Beek Airport,” for its location in Beek, Netherlands.