Why Frankfurt Is The Aviation Capital Of Germany

Frankfurt is Europe’s fourth busiest airport. However, Frankfurt is a good 400km from Berlin, the capital city of its host country. With this in mind, Simple Flying decided to look into what makes Frankfurt Airport Germany’s aviation capital.

Frankfurt Terminal Three
Frankfurt Airport is home to German national carrier Lufthansa. Photo: Daniel Dargel

Frankfurt Airport is the busiest airport in Germany by passenger numbers. On top of this, it ranks fourth in Europe, and 14th globally. In 2018, the airport handled 69,510,269 passengers, up considerably from Germany’s next busiest airport, Munich at 46,253,623 passengers. This is still more than the capital city, Berlin, which handled just 34,726,367 passengers in 2018. Let’s take a little look at the airport before delving into why it is the aviation capital of Germany. Don’t feel like reading the rest of our article? Why not watch our video instead:

Four runways, two terminals

Frankfurt really is something of a mega-airport. The main hub of German flag carrier Lufthansa, Frankfurt has four runways. Three are oriented in a roughly east-west configuration, while the fourth is oriented as north-south. The airport has two terminals; terminal one is used by Lufthansa.

Terminal two currently has a fair few bus gates. In fact, when Simple Flying recently flew to and from Terminal two, we experienced bus gates both ways. In order to handle even more passengers than they currently do, however, Frankfurt Airport is currently in the process of building a third terminal.

Frankfurt Airport German Aviation
Frankfurt Airport is the aviation capital of Germany. Photo: Fraport

So why Frankfurt?

So why is Frankfurt Airport so popular for Germany bound travelers? Following the conclusion of the Second World War, the American Army made Frankfurt a key hub within Western Germany. The airport was located fairly centrally within Western Germany, making it a useful hub for flights around the country.

In April of 1955, Lufthansa began to resume services, having suspended them ten years earlier at the end of the war. With Berlin being located within East Germany at the time, it was not on the cards to base the airline there. Instead, the airline decided to spread its footprint over a larger portion of West Germany.

Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Frankfurt has been the main hub of Lufthansa since 1955. Photo: Lufthansa

Lufthansa placed its headquarters in Cologne. This city was chosen as it was close to the West German capital city of the day, Bonn. According to the Flight Global archives, Hamburg was originally envisioned as Lufthansa’s main hub. However, the airline remained put, building its main aviation hub in Frankfurt. In fact, the German flag carrier was not even able to fly to Berlin’s airports until 1990, after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Continuous growth

Since its early days as Lufthansa’s hub, Frankfurt Airport has continually grown. In 1961, the airport was Europe’s second busiest behind London Heathrow. The airport’s current Terminal One was opened in 1972. Following this, the airport’s third runway opened in 1984, accompanied by the airport’s second terminal ten years later in 1994.

Frankfurt Airport
In April Frankfurt Airport laid the cornerstone for its third terminal. Photo: Fraport

Today the airport is currently working on the construction of its third terminal. The first part of the new terminal is even due to open in 2021, with all currently planned construction to be completed in 2023. These will increase Frankfurt Airport’s capacity by 21 million passengers annually.

What’s your favorite memory of Frankfurt Airport? Let us know in the comments!