80 years ago – on July 8, 1936 – Frankfurt Airport (FRA) was officially opened, when a Junkers Ju 52/3m aircraft made its first landing at FRA. Over the time, it has become one of the world’s most important air transportation hubs, thanks to its favorable location in the heart of Europe. 

At the opening on July 8, 1936, nobody could have foreseen how FRA would develop over the next years and decades. There had been significant growth in civil aviation since the First World War. Thus, in 1937, the airport already counted almost 71,000 passengers. “But at that time, the airport still looked very much like a farm,” emphasizes Markus Grossbach, head of the Fraport central archive.

“Sheep grazed on the airfield and the green areas were kept free of woodland growth by farming potatoes.”

The start of the Second World War brought an abrupt end to the development of international aviation. Around 2,000 bombs fell on Frankfurt Airport during the war, almost completely destroying its infrastructure.

After the end of the war, air traffic in Frankfurt increased very rapidly again thanks to the reconstruction of the airport with the help of the U.S. military. The first civilian aircraft landed in May 1946. Following the Berlin Blockade, the airport was part of a large-scale humanitarian mission.D

Dozens of American “raisin bombers” carried food and coal from Frankfurt and other airports to West Berlin during the Berlin Airlift.

That way, supplies were provided to the city’s population, which was cut off from all possible supply routes by land.

The number of passengers has grown continuously since regular passenger traffic resumed in 1950. Ten years later, in 1960, the airport already served 2.2 million passengers. By 1980, the passenger number had increased to as many as 17.7 million. Over the next ten years, this figure doubled again to almost 30 million passengers. Today, the figure is twice as high again: last year, Frankfurt Airport welcomed a total of approximately 61 million passengers.