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2017-06-13 13:12:09 

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A bird's eye view of its history

A bird's eye view of its historyThe history of Antwerp Airport is inextricably linked to the development of the first steps in aviation in Belgium. This “Bird’s eye view of its history” is a concise summary of the most important events.


Establishment of the “Aéroclub d’Anvers” by the driving force behind it, Baron Pierre de Caters. This club became very well known, with the organization of the “First Flying Week of Antwerp”, from 23 October to 2 November 1909, on the military exercise field of the Kruis Hoek, later the Wilrijkse Plein. This first demonstration of airplanes in Belgium brought aviation to Antwerp.

25 May 1923

25 May 1923Solemn inauguration of the new Deurne airport, initially reserved for the military authorities, which gave permission for the construction of the Stampe & Vertongen buildings and the establishment of a flying school by that firm. Surface area: approximately 80 hectares. An old railway truck was used as the station building, but was later replaced by a wooden chalet.

3 November 1927

Establishment of the Antwerp Aviation Club (A.A.C.) by Jan Olieslagers and P. Schellekens.

1 March 1929

Competition for Belgian architects for the design and construction of a building and installations for Antwerp Airport. The design by Stanislas Jasinski was chosen.

30 December 1929

The Minister of Traffic and Transport, Maurice Lippens, laid the first stone of the airport building. Antwerp already had links with Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Marseille, Brussels, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Basel, Zurich and Hamburg.

10 September 1930

luchthavengebouwOpening of the “flight station” at the terminus of tram 16 in Deurne-Zuid, on the airport which had already been in operation for some time, opposite the Sabena offices, by Mr. Maurice Lippens, Minister of Traffic and Transport, in the presence of the burgomaster Cauwelaert, Jan Olieslagers and Stanislas Jasinski, the architect of the building, amongst others.

1 May 1931

1 May 1931The airport building was completed. Princess Astrid gave the starting signal for the “Baltic Air Express”, an airline which flew from London via Antwerp, Düsseldorf, Essen and Hamburg to Malmö and via Copenhagen, Düsseldorf and Antwerp back to London.

16 May 1935

First aviation day for youth, organized by the AAC and the National Committee for Aviation


The outbreak of war saw the bombing of Antwerp. Part of the airport was blown up by soldiers from the engineering corps. The Germans carried out the necessary repairs and took over the airport. During the war the surface area of the airport expanded considerably. In addition, runways were constructed and hangars were built.

1944 - 1945

During the liberation Antwerp was struck by its share of V bombs, and 43 hit the airport site. Upon the cessation of hostilities, the airport served for a while as a depot for the British Army. Almost 20,000 tanks, cannon and trucks were stored there.


The airport was transferred back to the Belgian government and a start was made on reconstruction. The surface area was reduced to 152 hectares. However, it was not until 6 October 1947 that even a fraction of the pre-war activities were restored, with the daily flights between Antwerp and London.

November 1951

Construction of a second floor on the control tower.  


With the start of the jet age, several flights stopped because the new aircraft required a runway of at least 2500 metres. Because of this decline in activities, the Minister of Traffic and Transport considered closing down the airport. Both the Chamber of Industry of Antwerp and burgomaster Craeybeckx and the port sheriff Leo Delwaide continued to support the airport.


The activities gradually resumed. There was an almost daily flight to Southend, put on by the Ford Motor Company using its own aircraft.


Six new companies, including a bank, three shipping agents, a transport company and the airline company Delta Air Transport, established their offices in the airport building, bringing the total to eleven.

Improvement to the runway and the construction of a new hangar for aircraft.

26 February 1969

Establishment of the non-profit organisation Jeugd en Luchtvaart (Youth and Aviation).

18 May 1969

On the occasion of 60 years of aviation in Antwerp, the Royal Antwerp Aviation Club organized a large-scale meeting, culminating in the landing of a SABENA Boeing 727.

21 September 1972

Establishment of the non-profit organisation Delta Fan Club, later renamed the Aviation Society of Antwerp.


Top year in the history of the airport, with 192,598 passengers.


Freddy Van Gaever left Delta Air Transport (DAT). This meant that the company lost its dynamic leader and the airport lost one of its most important promoters.


The apron was significantly extended. In addition, an arrivals and departure hall was built.


Static show and maiden flight with a Boeing 737, in connection with 50 years of R.A.A.C.


The departure of the last DAT DC-6 also meant the end of an era in which charter flights accounted for a significant proportion of the airport traffic. IFA, Intra Jersey and TEA were able to keep up appearances for a short while.

Construction of the Travair complex.


Growing importance of Antwerp as a regional freight centre. Following KLM, SABENA, Pan Am and Air France, Lufthansa started a daily freight link, so that the Antwerp region was connected to the extensive Frankfurt network.

Start of the urgent restoration of the airport, which took several years.

December 1991

Flemish Minister of Traffic and Transport, Johan Sauwens, opened the renovated departures hall and during his speech he mentioned a tunnel under the Krijgsbaan, which would allow for the optimum use of the runway.


Airventure was established on the airport and started taxi flights.

Freddy Van Gaever started the Vlaamse Luchttransport Maatschappij (VLM) (Flemish Air Transport Company). From May there were daily flights to London City Airport, which meant that the three most important London airports now had connections with Antwerp.

13 June 1994

An extra floor was built on the existing structure of the control tower to enable the connection to the CANAC system.


Large investments were made: new surface for the runway, a new alpha taxiway, a new hangar with a capacity for Boeing 737s, and the construction of a ring road around the airport.

VLM started flights between Antwerp and Hannover.


Delta Air Transport transferred its technical departments to Zaventem. The large hangar was made available during the course of the year and then leased by Airventure.

Cooperation between the airport management and the Aviation Society of Antwerp led to the publication of Antwerp Approach, a regular free publication containing information on the airport for the general public.

13 November 1997

The renovated check-in hall and the Stampe & Vertongen museum were officially opened by the Minister-President Van den Brande and the Flemish Minister Baldewijns.


Celebration of “75 years of aviation”.


On the occasion of the 30th day of the disabled, Prince Filip and Princess Mathilde visited the airport and the Stampe & Vertongen museum.

Antwerp Airport reaches a record of 273.208 passengers but suffers from the bankruptcy of SABENA, end 2001.


This eventually leads to the end of the routes Antwerp-Amsterdam and Antwerp-Geneva.

9-10 May
Celebration of 75 years Royal Antwerp Aviation Club (RAAC) with a static show, exhibition and maiden flights. Following the 11th Stampe-Fly In takes place on 11 and 12 May.

25 October
Celebration of 30 years Aviation Society of Antwerp (ASA).

30 September-2 October
Antwerp Airport is host to the ACI conferece taking place in the Hilton, with more than 160 aviation delegates.


1-31 May
Press conference and exhibition on the occasion of 10 years VLM Airlines.

15 December
Inauguration of the exhibition "75 years of airport building Antwerp" in combination with the book presentation "Deurne Airport, history and future of an aviation landmark" by author and guest speaker Jo Braeken.


18 May
Press conference with signing of the PPP-principal agreement between the regional partners and the Flemish region, the High Council of Diamond, the GOM and the port, in the Stampe & Vertongen museum. At the same time, the new press centre is officially opened by Flemish minister Dirk Van Mechelen.


Construction and furnishing of a temporary T-terminal that will serve as departure and arrival zone during the renovation of the passengerterminal.

Start renovation passengerterminal


6 June
Opening of the new passenger terminal.

20 June
Arrival of Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima at the start of the three-day state visit to Belgium. The Dutch queen was welcomed by King Albert II, Queen Paola, Prince Filip and Princess Mathilde.