Did you know Düsseldorf Airport's first modern Master Plan envisaged up to six runways? Read all about it below!
Düsseldorf International Airport is Germany's third busiest airport after Frankfurt and Munich. In 2019, the airport handled over 25 million passengers.
Despite having a larger catchment area than Frankfurt and Munich, the airport's development potential has been limited.
Düsseldorf has two parallel runways. However, the runways are close to each other and cannot be used independently. In addition, use of the parallel runway is capped due to political restrictions.
Things could have looked very much different...
A MIDFIELD TERMINAL COMPLEX
In 1952, two years after Düsseldorf Airport had been returned to civil authorities, the airport asked NACO Netherlands Airport Consultants B.V. to prepare a Master Plan for the airport's long-term development.
As shown in the images below, NACO envisaged that an entirely new passenger terminal complex would be built north of the main runway. Later on, a new independent parallel runway would be built, putting the new passenger terminal at the heart of the airport.
The above artist's impression shows a possible layout of the midfield terminal, indicating a linear mile-long boarding concourse with aircraft parked on either side under an overhead canopy, and what looks like a headhouse or processor located at the bottom left.
The concept is really very contemporary for 1952 and is reminiscent of the once planned Westside Terminal at DFW. The current passenger terminal is located where the four hangars are visible (left).
Finally, as shown above, a fourth runway--which somehow looks like Düsseldorf's version of FRA's Startbahn West--would be added, providing the airport with two pairs of parallel runways.
But it didn't stop there. As shown below, the plan had a provision to add two more runways, raising the total number of runways to six.
One of the main runways could be lengthened to over 15,000 feet (4,500 meters)--an amazing length even now, let alone in the days before jets!
However, instead the airport chose to further develop the south side of the airport.
A second parallel runway opened in 1992 but was built close to the existing runway. In order to get it built concessions had to be made restricting its use.
And the rest as they say is airport history!
What if these plans would have been executed? Could Düsseldorf Airport have played a much more prominent role in Germany and Europe than it does today?
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With a title inspired by the setting of the iconic 70s film "Airport", this blog is the ultimate destination for airport history fans.
Marnix (Max) Groot Founder of AirportHistory.org. Max is an airport development expert and historian.