Dusseldorf airport: from a zeppelin-airfield to the Ruhr region's main hub for international flights
One of the most historic airports in Europe and the world
With an impressive passenger volume of more than 23 million, Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) is the third largest airport on German soil. As an important hub for Lufthansa (LH), Air Berlin (AB), Eurowings (EW), Germanwings (4U) and other airlines it plays an important role both for domestic flights and international connections. Being located near the densely populated Ruhr region makes it the primary airport for people living in or traveling to this famous industrial area.
Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) can look back to an impressive and also dramatic past. Its foundation goes back to 1909 when the DELAG, the world´s first commercial airline, built a big hangar for its Zeppelin airships and started offering flights shortly after. In the coming years many other airports were built in Oos (Baden-Baden), Berlin-Johannisthal, Gotha, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Dresden, and Leipzig connecting each other with scheduled Zeppelin flights.
Passenger travel with propeller-driven aircrafts started much later in 1927, which was the year Dusseldorf Airport (DUS) became a real airfield in modern terms. A decade later in 1939, civil usage stopped until the end of World War II. During that period, the Nazis transformed Düsseldorf Airport into a military airbase and usage was limited exclusively to the German air force. In 1945 massive bombing by allied forces led to nearly complete destruction. It took some years in the aftermath of the war until it got rebuilt under tight supervision of the British administration.
In 1950, the main runway was extended to 2475 meters, a new terminal was constructed in 1964. In 1969 the main runway was further lengthened to 3000 meters which is the length it still has today. In 1996 a tragic fire caused by welding work killed several people and destroyed large parts which then had to be re-constructed again with a cost of several hundreds of millions. Another impactful modification took place in 2014 to make Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) ready for the huge Airbus A380 mega-jets, which as of today are the largest commercially used passenger airplanes.
Apart from serving travelers, Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) today also hosts a big shopping mall which is open all year long. It provides shops and services at prices usually not common for airports. Part of its facilities are also a Business Class Lounge, a Lufthansa Senator Lounge, prayer rooms open to everybody, 24 conference-rooms with a capacity of up to 300 people, a playground for kids as well as two hotels that are part of the main airport complex. Another unique feature of Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) is its 87 meter control-tower which makes it the highest tower among all German airports.
Its centric location within Europe connects Düsseldorf Airport nicely to cities in all geographic directions on the continent, such as Munich (75 minutes), Frankfurt (55 minutes), Zürich (75 minutes), Hamburg (1 hour), Berlin (60 minutes), Palma de Mallorca (140 minutes), Vienna (90 minutes), London (90 minutes), Amsterdam (1 hour) and Paris (75 minutes).
There are also many long-distance connections from Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) with far-away destinations like Los Angeles, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Cancun, Male, Varadero, Vancouver, Florida und Miami. Most of those intercontinental flights are provided by Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partner airlines Air China, All Nippon Airways, Austrian Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, TAP Portugal and Swiss. But it is also used by many other larger airlines for direct connections, such as British Airways, KLM, Iberia, Air France, Emirates, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
With constant growth in passenger numbers in recent years, Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) has nearly reached its full capacity . This sometimes causes problems with flight delays and flight cancellations. One reason for this is that the two available runways were built relatively close to each other (500m). For security reasons they are not being used for takeoffs and landings at the same time. To improve the airports capacity, the operators have requested official approval from the authorities for a modified usage. This would allow them to use them synchronously during peak-times.
Connection with Dusseldorf, Cologne and the Ruhr region
Düsseldorf Airport benefits from its excellent connection to several important motorways. With its own exit (31) on the national motorway 44 (A 44) it is well-connected to a beltway of several other motorways. It can be reached quickly from Frankfurt via the A 3, from Heinsberg and Hagen via the A 46, from Cologne and Nijmegen via the A 57 and from Essen via the A 52. With those well-connected motorways people from all directions and many smaller and bigger cities have quick access to the airport. This can be noted during vacation periods when the airport occasionally runs out of long-term parking lots.
But with two separate train-stations, Düsseldorf Airport can also be reached quite comfortably from many closer and also distant cities. Getting to Düsseldorf takes roughly 20 minutes. Cologne can be reached in about 30 minutes, Essen in 40-50 minutes, Bochum in 50-60 minutes and also getting to the more distant Dortmund takes just 60-70 minutes.
Image: Adobe Stock
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