Frankfurt Airport in Germany is celebrating its 80th anniversary today (July 8) and has released a series of images detailing the development of the airport all the way back to the arrival of the first Junkers Ju 52/3m aircraft on July 8, 1936 (left).
The airport was originally named the Rhein-Main Airport and Airship Station and served nearly 71,000 passengers in its first year of operating. However, the start of the Second World War brought an abrupt end to the development of the airport after 2,000 bombs all but completely destroyed its infrastructure. After the end of the war, air traffic in Frankfurt began to grow once more thanks to the reconstruction of the airport with the help of the US military.
Markus Grossbach, head of the central archive for Fraport, the airport operator, said, “Even before normal political life had developed, former employees of the airport were working with pickaxes and shovels to save existing material from the ruins. It was very important to the population and airport employees to rebuild their gateway to the world.”
The first civilian aircraft landed as early as May 1946 and the number of passengers continued to grow until regular traffic resumed in 1950. In 1960 the airport served 2.2 million passengers and by 1980 passenger numbers had increased to 17.7 million. Over the next ten years, this figure doubled to almost 30 million passengers and last year, Frankfurt Airport welcomed a total of approximately 61 million passengers.
Right: passenger traffic had returned to normal levels at the airport by 1950
Frankfurt Airport has today become Germany’s largest and busiest airport and is a driving force for the local and national economy. Today, more than 80,000 people are employed at Frankfurt Airport, making it the biggest workplace in Germany.
Grossbach concluded, “In contrast to the situation in countries such as Britain or France, Frankfurt Airport’s leading national position was not predestined from the start and certainly could not be taken for granted. The rise of Frankfurt Airport after 1945 was aided largely by the Western Allies and specifically the Americans, who turned their ‘gateway to Europe’ into Germany’s ‘gateway to the world’.”
To view a timeline and image gallery of the airport’s development, click here.