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The history of Dortmund Airport

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Today, it is difficult to ascertain when the first aircraft took off and landed in Dortmund. What is certain is that it was before the First World War. On the advice of the then Mayor, Dr. Eichhoff, a flight base "north of the Brackel village" was established in Dortmund during the war. After the war, Dortmund was involved in postal flights for the German Air Freight Service. When the French left the Ruhr Area in the autumn of 1924, negotiations began with Deutscher Aero Lloyd and Junkers Luftverkehr AG about linking cities in the Ruhr with the international air traffic network. In the spring of 1925, Aero Lloyd began flights to Berlin and on 25 May 1925, the inaugural meeting of the "Luftverkehr Aktiengesellschaft Westfalen (Welu)" public limited company took place. The initial investment amounted to one million Reichsmark. The aim of this body was to promote organisations related to flight and, in particular, to advance air traffic. Various cities across the Ruhr region were involved in the company's foundation, including the City of Dortmund. However, in the autumn of the same year, the city could no longer bear the financial burden. Therefore, a private airport company was established.

Historie 1926


Flughafen Dortmund GmbH was founded on 16 April 1926, a date that marks the actual beginning of Dortmund's airborne history. The initial investment was 835,000 Reichsmark. Involved in the company were the German Reich, the state of Prussia, the region of Westphalia, the city and district of Dortmund, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and several independent companies. After the merger of Aero Lloyd and Junkers Luftverkehr AG in January 1926, the young, aspiring Deutsche Luft Hansa AG was formed, operating twelve flights daily to and from the Westphalian metropolis. In the matter of internal flights, Dortmund had established itself as a close competitor to Cologne, handling more scheduled flights than Düsseldorf and Essen.


In financial year 1927/1928, Flughafen Dortmund GmbH could already boast 4,319 take-offs and 4,321 landings, 2,589 of these being scheduled flights.

Historie 1930


On 10 August 1930, the "Graf Zeppelin" airship landed in Dortmund-Brackel before a crowd of 120,000.


The flight plan from Dortmund for the summer of this year included destinations such as Berlin, Dresden, Erfurt and Nuremberg within Germany, and Basle, Copenhagen, Paris, Rome and Stockholm across Europe.


At the start of the Second World War, all civil aviation operations were suspended. The military took over all available facilities, such as the 1,100 by 80-metre runway at Dortmund Airport.

Historie 1945


The last flight took off from Dortmund-Brackel on 28 March 1945. A few days later on 8 April, Allied tanks were to be found on the bombed ruins of the airport site. The Royal Air Force took over the airport and all German aviation was prohibited by the Allied Forces.

Historie 1950


Aero-Club e.V., the successor to the Dortmund Aviation Club, was founded by two brothers Theo and Hans Hengsbach, along with many other aviation enthusiasts.


On 13 June 1953, the first German glider since the war took off from Dortmund-Brackel.


On 5 May 1955, the German nation regained sovereignty over its airspace. Dortmund Airport was no longer part of Lufthansa's flight network because post-war civilian aircraft required runways at least 2,000 metres in length. The Brackel site would have needed considerable expansion eastwards, but the proximity of a railway line prevented this.


Hengsbach & Co., a flight company founded in Dortmund by the Hengsbach brothers, carried out commercial flights again. These included a route to the North Sea Islands for sea bathing holidays. Around the same time, a flying school was opened at the airport.


Because a British artillery unit was stationed at Dortmund-Brackel, a new location was sought for civil aviation. Thanks to the initiative of the Aero Club and the Hengsbach & Co. flight company, a new recreational aviation facility was opened on the Wickeder Chaussee, the current location of the Airport. It was run by the Aero Club Dortmund. The first recreational aircraft officially landed in Wickede on 1 January 1960.

Historie 1969


On 24 February 1969, Dortmund City Council created the General Development Plan. This commissioned, arranged sponsorship and laid the foundations of a development plan for Dortmund Airport.

On 13 August of the same year, the city received permission from the German President to build an 850 metre-long runway together with all the necessary support facilities.


On 1 April 1971, Flughafen Dortmund GmbH, which had purely managed the assets following the closure of the former airfield, once more became responsible for operations. 45 years after its foundation, it also took over the reins of ownership and management from the Dortmund Aviation Club. The airfield gradually evolved into an air traffic landing area.


In June 1974, the grass runway was replaced with a 650 by 20-metre asphalt runway for safety reasons.


On 10 March 1975, the German President accepted the 1969 proposal to extend the runway to 850 metres over a period of 10 years.


Founding of the RFG (Reise- und Industrieflug GmbH) in Dortmund.


RFG operated its first scheduled flight between Dortmund and Munich. This was followed by further scheduled routes to Nuremberg and Stuttgart.


In this year, LGW (Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter mbH) was founded by flight captain and company owner Bernd Walter. The company has had its headquarters at Dortmund Airport ever since.

Starting out as a flying school running photographic flights and aerial tours, the company expanded its remit to include a "seaside service", providing charter flights to the North Sea Islands of East Frisia. This service made use of one and two-engined Cessna 208/404 and Britten-Norman Islander planes.


On 28 June 1983, the then Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Rau, opened the new 850-metre long "Ruhr Runway", with an additional 100-metre take-off stretch at each end. The former runway was then used as a taxiway.


Flughafen Dortmund GmbH received permanent approval to continue operating the aircraft landing area and to make further alterations.


The check-in building had undergone major redevelopment by the end of 1987. The runway was extended to a length of 1,050 metres (plus two 200-metre emergency stop areas).


Following the Reunification of Germany, new routes to Dresden and Leipzig were established alongside those to Berlin, London, Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart.


The City Council and Supervisory Board gave the go-ahead for the extension of the runway to 2000 metres and the construction of the new terminal building. The airline company Eurowings was formed from a merger between RFG (Reise- und Industrieflug GmbH, known as Regionalflug GmbH from 1985 onwards), and NFD (Nürnberger Flugdienst).


The foundations of the new check-in building were laid in the presence of Wolfgang Clement, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia. The new Cargo Centre was opened.


Terminal A was completed and began operations on 29 October 2000. At the same time, the runway was extended to 2000 metres following acceptance of the planning proposal from 24 January 2000.


On 16 April 2001, Flughafen Dortmund GmbH celebrated its 75th anniversary – an occasion for the publication of an illustrated account: "Horizons – The Economic and Cultural History of Westphalian Aviation". (Published by Klartext-Verlag, ISBN: 3-89861-030-6)

The number of passengers exceeded the one million mark for the first time, and as another first, the new terminal and 2000-metre runway were used for an entire business year. However, this rapid expansion came to an abrupt end as Dortmund Airport also felt the effects of the terror attacks in New York on 11 September 2001.


A survey of 23 airports carried out by the magazine "Reise und Preise" (Travel and Prices) put Dortmund Airport in 1st place. This year of consolidation was also positive in other ways: the airport once again reported a growth in passenger numbers – exceeding the one million mark.



The "Ruhr Runways" achieved a record number of passengers (1.18 million). At the same time, the starting pistol was fired for low-cost flights from Dortmund: in July, the leading European budget airline easyJet commenced operations here. The flight schedule included destinations such as London, Paris, Alicante, Budapest, Palma de Mallorca, Nice, Prague and Rome, with Krakow joining them later. The airline Wizz Air added Katowice to this list in July. The airport's growth was also evident on the Internet, with the appearance of its new homepage in December.


The airport takes off! In the first quarter, passenger numbers doubled compared with the same period of the previous year. Over the year as a whole, the airport counted 1.7 million passengers, with the largest turnover in October. Incidentally, a similar trend was seen on the Internet, with 130,000 visitors to the homepage. New destinations from Dortmund were added by the airline Dau Air, with flights to Poznan and Berlin.


The year 2006 was crowned by two major events at Dortmund Airport: the World Cup and the airport's 80th anniversary. The airport was perfectly prepared for this major sporting event. It set up a special homepage on the Internet dedicated to the World Cup, containing a wealth of information about this event in the local area.


2007 was an exciting year Dortmund Airport. Amongst other events, Ruhr Runway was pleased to welcome two new airlines: the Scandinavian budget airline Sterling and the German economy airline Germanwings. For the latter, Dortmund was its fifth base. A further success story was reported by another airline in September: easyJet welcomed its three-millionth passenger at Dortmund Airport.

A little more out of the ordinary was the filming of scenes for the star-studded TV thriller "Das Papstattentat" by German channel RTL, which was shown in 2008. The key scene of the story, in which a killer (played by German actor Heiner Lauterbrach) attempts to assassinate the Pope, was shot in and around the airport. The reconstruction of several sets on the airport site and the use of a helicopter revealed how complex the making of a film can be.

The new P3 car park with 800 parking spaces was opened in time for the winter flight schedule. This was necessitated by an above-average increase in passenger numbers and resulting parking bottlenecks during holiday seasons. Flughafen Dortmund GmbH was able to close the 2007 financial year with a record volume of 2,155,064 passengers.

Markus bunk


Modern, transparent and intuitive – in April 2008 the Dortmund Airport website was given a new look. The highlight: for the first time, flights could now be booked online on the airport website. The destination map is displayed on the homepage and creates a focal point for what the airport has to offer. When it comes to routes flown, the Ruhr Runway was able to further expand its pioneering role in links to Eastern Europe. Now, 14 destinations in Eastern Europe could be reached from Dortmund. And yet another reason why 2008 was also a record year: over 2.3 million passengers flew from Dortmund Airport between January and December 2008 – more than ever before. This is one positive development that former Managing Director Manfred Kossack was certainly very pleased to be able to pass on to his successor, Markus Bunk. In June 2008, the Supervisory Board of the DSW21 subsidiary unanimously elected Markus Bunk as the new Managing Director of Flughafen Dortmund GmbH. Markus Bunk officially took on the responsibilities of his predecessor in October.


In November 2010, a majority of the City Council voted in favour of extending the operating hours of Dortmund Airport by half an hour, or a whole hour (for aircraft stationed at the site), to 11 p.m., plus an additional half-hour window to 11.30 p.m. for exceptions.

Following on from this decision, Flughafen Dortmund GmbH was able to apply to the Münster Regional Government for an operating hours extension.


Over 2012, German airports reported over 200 million passengers – a new record. However, this positive trend was enjoyed by only a few airports in Germany and Dortmund Airport was among them. Dortmund Airport welcomed 1,902,137 passengers on 30,518 flights throughout 2012. In 2011, the number was 1.8 million – equating to a growth of +4.4%. The most popular destinations from Dortmund were Palma de Mallorca, Katowice and Munich.

Udo mager


In March 2013, Dortmund Airport welcomed two new airlines to the airport, as Irish carrier Ryanair and Spanish airline Vueling commenced flight operations to and from Dortmund. A total of eight direct flights were therefore added to the schedule for the summer season.

A change in leadership at Dortmund Airport was announced in February. At an extraordinary meeting of the Supervisory Board, Udo Mager was appointed successor to former airport Managing Director Markus Bunk, who was leaving the company for personal reasons.

Udo Mager had been at the helm of the City of Dortmund Economic Development Agency (Wirtschaftsförderung Dortmund) since 2005 and a member of Dortmund Airport's Supervisory Board for several years. He took up his duties as Managing Director on 1 July 2013.