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Our history - 111 years of Hamburg Airport

Willkommensschild Hamburg Airport - Helmut Schmidt
Welcome sign for “Hamburg Airport – Helmut Schmidt” on the underpasses to the north and south of the airport.

Hamburg Airport was established on 10 January 1911. This makes it one of the world’s oldest commercial airports and the oldest international airport in Germany. What makes this so special is that the airport is still at its original location. Hamburg Airport, originally built on the outskirts of the city, is today the fifth largest airport in Germany. Since its beginnings the airport has celebrated many milestones of international air travel.

Zeppelinhalle Flughafen Hamburg 1913
It all began in 1911 with an airship hangar for two Zeppelins at the site that is today Hamburg Airport. This hangar was demolished after the end of the First World War. The awkward Zeppelins were soon supplanted by the first aeroplanes.
Luftschiffhalle 1912 in HAM
Airship hangar in Hamburg: The airship hangar in Hamburg was opened in 1912 after a year of construction work. It had a capacity for two Zeppelins.
flughafen-rumpler-taube ca-1913
In 1920, as air travel by aeroplane slowly took off in the aftermath of the First World War, the first scheduled flights began, to destinations such as Berlin, Amsterdam and Sylt.
flughafengelaende vor 1928_gburucker
View of the airport site before 1928
Hamburg Airport_Pfeiler der Berliner Luftbrücke
Hamburg’s vital role in the Airlift: During the Berlin Airlift, from June 1948 to May 1949, Hamburg Airport served as one of the take-off points for the so-called raisin bombers.
Erste B707 der Lufthansa in Hamburg
Lufthansa B707: On 2 March 1960, Lufthansa’s first Boeing 707, arriving directly from Seattle, landed in Hamburg.
Erste Landung B747 in Hamburg 1970
From 1970, when the wide-bodied Boeing 747 “Jumbo” entered service, even more passengers could set off on intercontinental flights. The apron was strengthened to cope with the 350-tonne giants and the terminal was equipped with a new gate for the huge aircraft, including the airport’s first two jetbridges.
Concorde der Air France 1976 Hamburg Airport
Concorde in Hamburg: On 25 April 1976, the Air France Concorde paid its first and only visit to Hamburg.
Nov. 2016 Eröffnung Ausstellung Helmut Schmidt in Terminal 2
Opening of the Helmut Schmidt exhibition: On 10 November 2016, Hamburg’s former Governing Mayor, now the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, and airport CEO Michael Eggenschwiler opened an exhibition on the life and achievements of Helmut and Loki Schmidt in Terminal 2.
luftaufnahme vorfeld
So steht er heute da: Blick auf die Terminals und das Vorfeld des Hamburg Airport.

Helmut Schmidt, namesake of the airport

The airport in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is proud of its extended name, honouring one of Hamburg’s greatest 20th century sons. Who was Helmut Schmidt, this “man of the century”? He was born here in 1918 and grew to adulthood during the Nazi regime. Decades later, as a Federal Chancellor driven by deep convictions, he campaigned for European cooperation. 

Helmut Schmidt exhibition in Terminal 2
Helmut Schmidt exhibition in Terminal 2


An exhibition in Terminal 2 informs visitors about the life and work of Helmut Schmidt.

Here is a brief summary:

From 1974 to 1982, Helmut Schmidt from Hamburg was Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. His chancellorship saw the aftermath of the 1970s oil crisis, with its severe consequences for the global economy, new approaches to international cooperation in economic policy, attacks by the Red Army Faction terrorist organisation, and debates about the NATO Double-Track Decision. Schmidt’s political efforts were shaped by his unwavering certainty that cooperation between the states of Europe was the guarantor of a peaceful future. He wanted to stimulate the German awareness and understanding of the country’s neighbours.
With his directness of speech and his straightforward, sometimes gruff manner, Helmut Schmidt was for many the archetypical Hamburg local. He remained closely connected with his hometown all his life. As Hamburg’s Interior Minister, he made his name around the country as a crisis manager during the North Sea flood of February 1962. Until his death, Helmut Schmidt’s opinion was often sought in public discourse on world affairs and political subjects, and he was co-publisher of the Hamburg-based weekly newspaper, DIE ZEIT.
In 1961, Helmut Schmidt and his wife Hannelore, known as “Loki”, moved with their daughter Susanne to the Langenhorn borough in Hamburg – and until his death, he remained a neighbour of Hamburg Airport. Despite the official residence in Bonn, he remained true to his hometown even as Chancellor. Various heads of state were guests at the Schmidt’s semi-detached house in the north of Hamburg. Occasionally, in the 1970s, Helmut Schmidt effectively made Hamburg Airport a second state airport.
As Head of the Transport Department at the start of the 1950s, Helmut Schmidt laid the foundation for Hamburg’s success as an aviation centre. Today, some 40,000 aviation specialists are employed in around 300 companies large and small in the metropolitan region. In 1990, Helmut Schmidt became a member of Airbus Germany’s first Supervisory Board. He was the Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Hamburg Airport from 1991.