Vienna International Airport
The Vienna International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Austria. It is also the 18th busiest airport in all of Europe. It is located just over 10 miles from the center of Vienna in the neighborhood of Schwechat. Many of the residents of Vienna actually call the airport Schwechat for this reason. One of the main attractions at the airport is the 357-foot tall control tower. The tower has a unique outer appearance. The tower performs laser shows at night that entertain travelers who are waiting in the airport.
History of the Airport
The airport was constructed in 1938 as a military production facility for an aircraft manufacturer. The British military occupied the airport in 1945. The airport eventually became the primary hub for air travel in Austria in the 1950s. The airport maintained only one runway until an expansion in 1972 that added the second runway that is still in use today. The airport has seen many changes over the past few decades including the construction of rentable office spaces directly on the grounds. The airport has a separate maintenance facility that is adjacent to a special building designed for high-profile visitors. Extensive space for retail stores has been created over the years.
The Vienna International Airport has two primary runways. Both are just over 11,000 feet long and 147 feet wide. A third 12,000-foot long runway has been planned. The runways are long enough to accommodate the largest commercial airliners in use today. Despite the fact that an Airbus A380 or larger plane can land on the runways there are still some logistical problems with boarding that make it difficult to accommodate these types of planes. Rapid exit taxiways and apron drives allow the airport to handle 68 takeoffs or landings each hour when conditions are good.
The airport has one single passenger terminal in the center of the property. The terminal is divided into several concourses that are known as check-in areas. The central terminal is actually a structure that was built to combine two previously freestanding buildings constructed in previous decades. There are 20 passenger bridges available for boarding. The airport does have the capacity to park up to 98 planes on the field when necessary including additional spaces for maintenance and deicing. The newest addition to the airport is the third check-in area that was just completed. This 147,000 square foot addition includes 33 gates, 64 check-in desks, 10 baggage carousels, and 12 security lines. It also has space for 31 retail stores. A number of the gates in the airport are reserved for travel to and from counties that follow the Schengen agreement.
Vienna International Airport saw over 21 million travelers pass through the facility in 2011. More than 246,000 takeoffs and landings occurred during the same period of time. The average taxi times to each runway are between three and nine minutes when conditions are optimal. The runways have no size restrictions on the types of aircraft that can land. The airport is situated in a central location that makes it an attractive hub for freight carriers. The airport has invested in a strong freight-processing infrastructure. The facility regularly handles more than 20,000 tons of freight each month during the year.
The Vienna International Airport has been the center of several notable events. Austria hosted the Winter Olympics twice in 1964 and 1976. This made the airport the main entry point for Olympic athletes who were attending the event. Pope John Paul II visited the airport multiple times when visiting the country. The airport has an excellent safety record. There has not been a single fatality due to an aircraft accident since 1955.