Nearly 60 million passengers going via Schiphol

Exactly 100 years ago this year, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was opened. On 19 September 1916, the first small military plane landed in the Haarlemmermeer polder. By 2015, Schiphol had grown to become Europe’s fifth largest airport with 58 million passenger arrivals and departures. Passenger numbers saw a further 8 percent growth in Q2 2016, as reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in the (Dutch) Quarterly Aviation Monitor (Kwartaalmonitor Luchtvaart).

Through the years, the number of passengers travelling via Schiphol has increased dramatically. In 1946, around 348 thousand passengers flew via this airport. The threshold of 1 million passengers was reached in 1959. A quarter of a century later, in 1984, already more than 10 million passengers went through Schiphol. Since then, passenger numbers have increased ever more sharply: in 1993 Schiphol handled 20 million passengers for the first time, in 1997 passenger traffic reached 30 million, and the threshold of 40 million passengers was already reached by 2002.

After a severe drop in number of passengers following the economic crisis in 2008, the number went up again every year since 2009 to exceed 58 million passengers in 2015. In Q1 and Q2 of this year, numbers continued to rise by 12 and 8 percent respectively. Schiphol is on track to pass the 60 million threshold in 2016.

Number of passengers at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

More often intercontinental

Half a century after the airport was opened, in 1966, nearly 3 million travellers went through Schiphol; four in five travelled within Europe. The most popular airports of origin or destination were London, Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels. Another 570 thousand passengers used Schiphol as an intercontinental hub that year, with New York and Montreal as main airports of origin or destination. A further approximately 20 thousand passengers took domestic flights.

Thirty years on in 1996, nearly 40 percent of passengers flew intercontinental. Over the following nineteen years, this share dropped to slightly over 30 percent in 2015, partly on account of new price-cutting carriers flying mainly within Europe. CBS reported previously that the number of passengers flying on low-cost carriers via Dutch airports has risen dramatically over the past fifteen years, much more so than the number on traditional airlines. Nearly 30 percent of all passengers going through Schiphol last year were on low-cost carrier flights.

More Dutch taking holidays by air

In the Netherlands, growth in air traffic can also be seen from the number of Dutch going on holiday by air. In 1990, a total of 1.8 million holidays started in the air, representing 16.5 percent of the total number of holidays. This share had increased to nearly 30 percent ten years later (2000). In 2011, the 35 percent threshold was reached and in 2015 the share became almost 40 percent. Altogether nearly 7 million Dutch passengers took holiday flights in 2015.

Number of passengers at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Cargo traffic through the years

Cargo transport at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport likewise has developed strongly over the years. Whereas in 1966 only 105 thousand tonnes in goods were carried via Schiphol, the volume had climbed up to nearly 1.1 million tonnes thirty years later. The increase was particularly sharp in intercontinental cargo traffic volumes. Between 1966 and 1996, total airfreight volume carried across continents rose from 36 to 959 thousand tonnes, against an increase from 68 to 124 thousand tonnes of cargo carried within Europe.

Intercontinental cargo traffic drove the surge in cargo traffic of the past 19 years, with a 55 percent rise up to 1.5 million tonnes in 2015. Within Europe, the cargo air traffic volume was up by 8.8 percent in the same period, reaching a total of 134 thousand tonnes.

Cargo traffic volumes at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport