History of Airport Weeze
Founding of the British military airport Weeze/Laarbruch. The Royal Air Force (RAF) stations – among others – Tornados, Bucaneers and Harriers. About 2,200 soldiers work at Laarbruch: Together with their families, roughly 6,600 British live here. The British provide civil employment for 600 German employees, Laarbuch's regional economy benefits from about 600 million buying power. The British are active at all levels of society and are well-appreciated as neighbours in the Lower Rhine region.
After the Warsaw Pact breaks down, it becomes clear that the RAF might decide to drop their base Weeze/Laarbruch. The “Flughafen Niederrhein GmbH” is founded. It is held by the regional government. The company developes concepts for the usage of the airport area. The aim: Company settlements and new jobs to make up for the predicted departure of the British.
The utilization concept “Euro-regional Centre for Air Traffic, Logistics and Trade“ is well-received both in the Netherlands and in Germany. The approval procedure begins.
After 45 years of operations, the Royal Air Force leaves its Weeze/Laarbruch base on the 30th of November. The region loses good friends, who were also highly appreciated as clients and customers. Over 400 civilian jobs are lost.
A group of Dutch investors purchases Laarbuch and takes over the spacial area of 620 ha. On the 20th of June, the minister of transport, Ernst Schwanhold, grants the aviation law approval for civilian air traffic operations.
Constructions of a new passenger terminal and of a new apron begin. The air traffic sites are completely renovated and partly replaced. A tower is set up by the German Air Traffic Control.
On the 1st of May, regular flight services start from the new airport. Three times per day London Stansted is served by the low cost carrier Ryanair.
At the beginning, passengers are cleared in a provisionally converted hangar. On the 1st of August, the new terminal of 15,000 sqm is opened.
In October, the airport receives its first home carrier: The Dutch airline V Bird bases three aircrafts of type Airbus A320 and offers low cost flights to German and European airports.
A legal complaint from the neighbouring town Bergen results in air traffic restrictions for the weekends. The young airline V Bird is challenged by additional costs of more than a million Euro deriving from flight diversions and the transportation of passengers to remote alternative airports.
For a short time, the Dutch tour operator Sudtours departs from Weeze with its holiday carrier Dutchbird.
On the 7th of April, Sky Airlines has its first take-off from Weeze to Antalya.
At the first weekend in May, 80,000 visitors celebrate the airport's first birthday in a major event. Soon after, the airport welcomes its 500,000th passenger.
On the 8th of October, V Bird stops operations as negotiations with new investors surprisingly fail. Short time later, the airline files for bankruptcy.
Ryanair extends its flight offerings in the Lower Rhine region: Starting with winter flight schedule, the airline adds Glasgow/Prestwick and Barcelona/Girona as destinations served on a daily basis.
In February, Ryanair welcomes its 400,000th passenger at Weeze. Rom/Ciampino and Stockholm/Skavsta become further flight destinations.
A judgment by the court of Cologne bans the airport from using “Airport Dusseldorf Regional (Weeze)” as a brand name. Thus, the airport decides to call itself “Airport Weeze”.
Managing director Alex van Elk leaves the company at the end of September. Ludger van Bebber – working for the company since 2004 – is elected to be the new managing director.
In October, TUI airline Hapagfly announces Weeze as a new airport of departure. In summer 2006, Hapagfly and Hamburg International will fly to Mallorca and Antalya several times per week; On board only-flight-passengers as well as package travel holiday-makers from TUI, Thomas Cook, Alltours and REWE Touristik. “Weeze becomes cosmopolitan” is the slogan used by Hapagfly in its advertising campaign.
The company Serve2fly Heico Losch Airport Service GmbH takes over the airport's ground handling services in the mid of November.
Sum of air traffic in 2005: 591,774 passengers and 7,370 takes-offs and landings.
On the 3rd of January, the higher administrative court in Muenster approves a lawsuit from 16 local residents and the Dutch community Bergen to cancel the aviation law approval. An appeal of the lawsuit is not permitted. The District Council of Dusseldorf lodges a complaint against the non-permission of an appeal. Flight operations continue.
Due to the legal insecurity, Hapagfly, Hamburg International and the tour operators TUI, Thomas Cook, REWE Touristik, Alltours and Schauinsland-Reisen discontinue their flights to Mallorca and Antalya.
The region backs up its airport: In an online survey from Antenne Niederrhein 85% of the respondents show support for Airport Weeze. In a spontaneous engagement the airport's fire brigade collects more than 20,000 signatures for the airport's survival.
At the end of January, the airport welcomes Vertical Vision as a first substantial company settlement.
In the mid of February, the airport welcomes the 1,000,000st Ryanair passenger.
At the end of February, the German-Dutch tourism project 2-Land and the Touristik-Agentur-Niederrhein (TAN) set up offices in the terminal.
At the beginning of September, about 18,000 visitors celebrate in the 16-hour-long dance festival “Q-Base” which takes place in the Northern part of the airport area.
At the beginning of October, the company gaetan-data opens a training facility for ground operation professionals at the airport. Unemployed young people from the local communities are prepared for a business segment with future.
In the meantime, Ryanair once again broaded its Weeze network: The Irish carrier takes off to London (Stansted), Barcelona (Girona), Glasgow (Prestwick), Rom (Ciampino), Stockholm (Skavsta) and Shannon.
Sum of air traffic in 2006: 585,403 passengers and 8,262 take-offs and landings.
At the beginning of February, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig accepts the complaint of the District Council of Dusseldorf. Thus, an appeal of the verdict from the Higher Administrative Court concerning a cancellation of the aviation law approval is possible.
In February, Airport Weeze becomes the third German home base of the low cost airline Ryanair and at the same time its 19th hub in Europe. At first, two Boeing 737-800 are sited in Weeze, two further ones will follow in autumn.
A new instrument landing system (category CAT IIIb) is installed at Airport Weeze. Therefore, for two weeks in May flights are redirected via the airport in Eindhoven. Some 150 staff work day and night to overhaul 75,000 sqm of surface area while processing 4,000 tons of asphalt. A 900 m long section of the runway (total length: 2,440 m) is replaced completely and other parts of the air traffic site are being redeveloped. The new high performance runway lighting system enables precise landings even on foggy days in the Lower Rhine region.
From the 21st of June onwards, the German charter carrier Hamburg International serves a weekly connection between Weeze and Erbil in the Northern Iraq.
With almost 76,000 passengers in June and a growth rate of 36% in comparison to the previous year, Airport Weeze achieved a record result. The same in July: 90,342 passengers and a rise of 56% in comparison to prior year's July manifested yet another record.
The upwards trend at Airport Weeze continued and resulted in enormous benefits concerning its function as an employer: While statistics revealed 250 employees in 2006, this number more than doubled with the establishment of the Ryanair home base. The latest job survey by the airport management company revealed that in the meantime more than 40 companies settled at the airport.
On the 19th of September, federal chancellor Angela Merkel visits Airport Weeze to farewell her general secretary Ronald Pofalla as the CDU´s district party leader.
On the 3rd of October, Ryanair arranges a Spanish fiesta within the terminal building to celebrate three new routes: Valencia, Mailand-Bergamo and Malaga.
At the beginning of October, Airport Weeze presents its “Airport City Weeze” at the Expo Real in Munich. Airport City Weeze comprises 250 sqm of industrial and commercial space on the airport area.
Ryanair welcomes its 2,000,000th passenger on the 30th of October. At the same time, the airport is happy to register the highest number of passengers within one month ever: For the first time in history the barrier of 100,000 passengers was exceeded.
The Dutch air freight company Sky Wings Cargo Airlines opens a branch office in the airport terminal. Until autumn the airline operates cargo flights between Weeze and Coventry in the British Midlands.
The latest survey on employee numbers at the airport in 2007 revealed about 700 employees working at about 40 settled companies. Within a single year, more than 400 new jobs were created.
Sum of air traffic in 2007: 848,852 passengers (rise of 45% in comp. to prior year) and 10,009 take-offs and landings (rise of 21% in comp. to prior year).
The airport becomes part of the ADV directory, a board of the international airports, putting it into the premier airport league.
The Moenchengladbach-based company Rheinland Air Service (RAS) opens a 1,000 sqm maintenance base for aircrafts at the airport. Their aircraft experts have been airport partners for refuelling since the airport's very beginning.
Ryanair opens two new routes from Weeze to Poland: From the 30th of March onwards, the low cost airline operates flights to Bydgoszcz (formerly known as Bromberg) and to Wroclaw (formerly known as Breslau).
The 21st Ryanair route from Weeze to the Balaton region in Hungary is opened up. Route number 22 serves Edinburgh.
For the first time, the „Fisherman's Friend Strongman Run 2008“ is hold at Airport Weeze on the 13th of April. More than 5,000 participants from Germany, the Netherlands and all over Europe participate in the large-scale event. They are cheered for by more than 30,000 spectators.
To celebrate its fifth birthday, Airport Weeze holds the “3rd Great Airport Festival“ on the 30th of April (Koniginnendag) and the 1st of May. More than 50 historical as well as modern prop airliners and more than 30,000 visitors joined the major birthday party.
In summer, Sky Airlines sets up a second flight connection to Antalya. The new route to the Turkish riviera is operated every Sunday and Monday with a B 737.
Another premiere: With begin of the summer season, the Turkish holiday carrier Corendon Airlines takes off to Antalya.
In the summer, Hamburg International operates flights to Mallorca for package travellers from the big Dutch and German tour operators.
With begin of the winter season, the airport serves 16 new destinations. Ryanair bases its sixth and seventh jet at Airport Weeze. They fly to 11 new destinations: Berlin, Dublin, Teneriffa, Faro, Oslo, Santander, Birmingham, Manchester, Riga, Ancona and Gothenburg.
As well, three new airlines take off from Weeze: The Dutch KLM subsidiary Transavia operates flights to Gran Canaria, the German-Turkish Lufthansa participation SunExpress serves Antalya and the Austrian airline Welcome Air flies to Innsbruck every Saturday.
Result of the annual passenger survey: For the first time more Dutchmen than Germans use Airport Weeze as an airport of departure. 52% of all departing passengers originate from the neighbour country, tendency rising.
On the 3rd of November, it is the first time that Hamburg International takes off from Weeze to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.
Air traffic results in 2008: Airport Weeze realizes an extraordinary annual performance of 1.5 million passengers which is an increase of 80%.
Starting from January, emergency situations can be simulated in the training centre BOTC. The multi-discipline exercise centre is situated on the area of Airport Weeze and is opened by the Dutch minister of the interior Guusje ter Horst and the parliamentary state secretary Manfred Palmen.
A new Airbus A 319 from the charter airline Hamburg International performs its inaugural flight from the Airbus plant in Hamburg-Finkenwerder to Airport Weeze on the 6th of March. The aircraft is based in the Lower Rhine region from the 2nd of May and takes off to 13 weekly destinations in summer.
Duly for the summer time, Ryanair starts its summer flight schedule 2009 with five new destinations from Weeze: Stockholm-Vasteras, Bologne, Cagliari, Barcelona-Reus and Pisa. Besides, flights to Alghero, Trapani and Valencia are operated again for the summer season.
On the 6th of April, Airport Weeze celebrates its 5,000,000th passenger since the airport began civil air traffic in 2003.
The Higher Administrative Court in Muenster reduces the airport's hours of operation via interim measure. As a result, Ryanair announces to close Weeze as a base. On the 1st of May, the District Council of Dusseldorf issues an amendment to the approval of operation from 2001. This amendment enables Ryanair to continue running a base with stationed aircrafts at Airport Weeze and to keep up its flight schedule to full extent.
On the 2nd of May, an opening event of the airline Hamburg International takes place at Airport Weeze. The carrier presents its new Airbus A319 and opens a new base at the airport.
On time for the upcoming high season in 2009, Airport Weeze upgrades its parking site P2 with 2,200 new parking possibilities. In the terminal the security checkpoints and the bord card controls for departing passengers are raised. As well, the arrival area is extended and another luggage belt is installed. At the same time, a Bavarian beer garden with direct view on the aircrafts is opened.
In July, Ryanair bases its seventh Boeing 737-800 at Airport Weeze. Along with this, nine new destinations are added: Almeria, Valladolid, Ibiza, Béziers-Agde, Bratislava, Krakow, Lamezia Terme, Turin and Zadar.
On August 20th, federal chancellor Angela Merkel touches down at Airport Weeze. On invitation by the local association of CDU Kleve she talks to more than 2,000 people within the terminal as part of an election campaign.
In September, the Hungarian low cost airline Wizz Air starts scheduled flights between Airport Weeze and the Hungarian capital city Budapest.
Agadir and Fez in Morocco are added as new Ryanair flight routes from Airport Weeze. Overall, the Irish airline now offers more than 50 destinations with departure from the Lower Rhine region.
For the fifth time, students from the Fontys University of Applied Science from Venlo organize the “Special Christmas Market“ in the airport's terminal.
Air traffic results in 2009: The airport is able to achieve an extraordinary annual performance with more than 2.4 million passengers and an increase of 58%. The figures confirm Airport Weeze to keep being the airport with the highest annual growth rate among the 23 international airports in Germany.
In January, Wizz Air announces another destination from Weeze: Beginning in the mid of June, the airline will fly to the Polish Kattowitz four times per week.
To secure the processing of the steadily high passenger numbers on the familiar high standard, the airport once again enlarges its parking capacities and decides to restructure parts of its terminal: In order to get more space for passengers, the travel market is relocated to the ground floor.
Ryanair adds two new destinations to its flight plan: From March onwards, it will fly to Lappeenranta in south-easterly Finland and to Szczecin (Stettin) in Poland twice per week. At the same time, the eighth Boeing 737-800 will be based in Weeze.
For the seventh time, Airport Weeze presents itself with a booth at the world's leading travel trade fair ITB in Berlin. It is awarded its first prize: The eighth rank at the “Best Practice Award” of the Travel Industry Club, which supports sustainable innovations within the travel industry.
In April, an ash cloud disrupts the entire air traffic in huge parts of Germany and Europe for six days.
From May onwards, Ryanair offers another destination: The seaport Triest in Northern Italy. As well, there are more flights from Weeze to Malaga and Faro during the summer months and - starting in July - the Spanish town Saragossa and the Irish county Kerry are added to the flight plan. In total, Ryanair serves 52 destinations with nine Boeing 737-800s that are based at Airport Weeze.
For the third time, 8,000 runners meet the challenge at the Fisherman's Friend Strongman Run 2010 at Airport Weeze in April. 35,000 spectators overburden the access roads. The next Strongman will take place at the Nuerburg Ring in 2011.
For the first time, the Dutch parent company of the German online tour operator Sunweb.de charters an entire holiday aeroplane of the German charter flight company XL-Airways. It carries holiday-makers to a total of 12 destinations at the Mediterranean Sea.
In May, the legal debate about the approval of operation finally reaches an end, as an amicable arrangement is made with the last complainant, the community of Bergen (NL).
From June onwards, Wizz Air offers two weekly flights to the Rumanian capital city Bucharest and to the country's third largest town Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania.
The airport becomes a customs aerodrome.
Ryanair once again enlarges its flight schedule from Airport Weeze in the winter: From November onwards, the Irish serve a total of 56 routes with its eight based aircrafts, among these being the new destinations Marseille, Madrid and Leeds.
On the 1st of September, the federal cabinet of Germany enacts a three-step aviation tax for domestic and international flights. The height will depend on the flight travel distance. As a result, Ryanair reduces its network served from Airport Weeze by 13 destinations and the XL-Airways jet is moved to Amsterdam by its tour operator. Due to the newly introduced aviation tax, Airport Weeze expects about 20% less voyagers in 2011 which equals a loss of about 700,000 passengers.
In October, Hamburg International files for bankruptcy. Air Berlin announces to take off from Airport Weeze to Mallorca three times per week in the summer season of 2011.
Air traffic results in 2009: 2.9 million passengers and an increase of 20.6%.
As expected the flight tax slows down growth at Airport Weeze. After a record year in 2010 the airport records nearly 500,000 fewer passengers. Ryanair cancels 13 destinations, among them Berlin. XL-Airways withdraw to Amsterdam. In October Hamburg International declares bankruptcy. Wizzair withdraws again. Alltours commissions AirBerlin to operate 3 flights per week to Palma de Mallorca. Launch of Airport-TV: passengers are offered an entertaining and informative program on large flat-screen TV’s. 2,421,720 passengers
In January the largest solar power station in North Rhine-Westphalia is connected to the grid. 60,000 solar panels generate 13 million kilowatt-hours. A large proportion of the airport’s electricity requirements are sourced from the photovoltaic system.
In November the runway is renovated, altogether 1,400 meters are resurfaced within 3 days. After receiving a new base course and asphalt layer line traffic resumes on time.
Snow and ice are responsible for cancellations and delays. The flight tax still slows down growth: 2,200,000 passengers
Ryanair grants eight new destinations and a ninth stationed aircraft for the airport’s tenth anniversary. The airport starts with 59 destinations into the summer season.
Airport CEO Ludger van Bebber welcomes the 15 millionth passenger at Airport Weeze.
A large airport festival with an air show, fair and lots of attractions is the highlight of the birthday celebratons.
At the end of the year Airport Weeze is expecting 2.4 million passengers and a plus of 10 percent.