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Beginning in the Thirties, there was no commercial aviation in Luxembourg; the Luxembourg sport aviation pioneers chose the Findel site as home base to host their activities and developments. After a great deal of efforts, an appropriate law was adopted by the Parliament concerning the construction of an airport and the regulation of air traffic (Law of 19 March 1937).

Unfortunately, World War II brought this initial drive to a stop and activities were not resumed until 1945.

Traffic statistics were established form 1946 on and the field, still open grassland at the time, experienced a regular increase in air traffic.

Premier bâtiment de l'aéroport
This photo, dated 29 September 1946, shows the first airport building

It is a temporary wooden construction housing the meteorological department and the embryonic air traffic control services.

Personnel recruitment starts in 1946 but it is necessary to wait until 1949 for a law to be enacted to regulate their working framework. This law dated 22 June 1949 concerns the organisation of the airport services. The law stipulates that the airport services come under the authority of the Ministry of Transport and the structures of the initial team is: an airport commander, a radio-aeronautical department manager, a meteorological department manager, radio operators, meteorological observers, office staff and workers.

Statistics of these first years showing the evolution of the air movements
Year 0 - 2 t 2 - 5 t > 5 t Total
1946 836 50 146 1.032
1947 2.952 56 1.212 4.220
1948 2.788 120 596 3.504
1949 3.590 198 286 4.074
1950 2.656 338 608 3.602
1951 2.338 70 890 3.298
1952 1.784 60 608 2.452
1953 2.547 161 1.358 4.066
1954 5.088 95 1.450 6.633

As early as this, the growth of air traffic in the country is evident, as is the fact that the platform needs to be provided with suitable infrastructures.

The first main steps to improve the infrastructure are the construction of the main runway, measuring 2000m by 60m, followed by a secondary runway measuring 1600m by 50m., An extension of the main runway to 2830m, including runway lights to permit night time operation took place in the middle of the 50’s. These works are completed in 1954.

Runway extension to 2830m (towards the east)

A noteworthy event is the construction of the first transport aircraft hangar between 1951 and 1952.

First transport aircraft hangar

This hangar still exists and because of its revolutionary prestressed concrete construction, it is now on the industrial heritage list.

The origins of commercial air traffic date back to the founding of Luxembourg Airlines on 4 September 1948, at the initiative and its assistance of the government. In 1962 Luxair followed Luxembourg Airlines. The growth of Luxair is one of the reasons for a continuous development of the airport infrastructures.

The ceremony to lay the founding stone of the first air terminal took place on 12 August 1946.

Première aérogare
First air terminal

The growth of air traffic subsequently prompted many extensions to the first air terminal.

Infrastructures au début des années 60
Infrastructures in the early 60’s

The building to the left of the control tower is used as departure and arrival hall. Only later the building to the right of the control tower was build to serve as arrival hall.

Because of the regular increase of traffic, not only are the infrastructures adapted, but also the airport services benefit from general reorganisation (law of 21 May 1964) and are structured as follows: one commander, one deputy, five department chiefs, one for each of the following departments: air traffic control department, aeronautical operations department, meteorological department, radio department and electric department.

It soon becomes evident that despite the numerous extensions to the installations of the first air terminal, the installations are obsolete due to the continuous increase in passenger numbers. They date back to the initial handling requirements, are no longer suitable for modern airport and no longer be enlarged.

The number of passengers recorded during these years shows the rapid development of the airport.

Number of passengers registered by the years
Year Arrivals Departures Transit Total
1960 20.059 19.639 15.893 55.591
1961 28.157 26.791 15.301 70.249
1962 45.470 44.977 15.898 106.345
1963 53.259 54.119 11.897 119.275
1964 68.371 69.217 8.736 146.324
1965 103.881 104.154 6.154 214.189
1966 168.536 170.554 5.528 344.618
1967 158.479 161.535 5.152 325.166
1968 165.735 167.159 3.582 336.476
1969 204.541 202.125 2.608 409.274
1970 238.941 232.469 5.528 476.938
1971 314.448 312.277 5.791 632.516
1972 317.082 313.181 10.194 640.457

The law of 11 July 1972 concerning the construction of a new air terminal at the Luxembourg airport finally allowed the facility to become a modern air terminal with suitably sized aircraft parking. It is first commissioned in October 1975.

L'aérogare - Vue récente
The air terminal - a recent view

The site of the new air terminal is based on the first general development plan of the airport, dating back to 1968, of which the main point is the extension of the main runway to 4000m.

The start of cargo flight activities at the airport comes with the setting-up of Cargolux in March 1970.

In 1975, the airport services need to be reorganised again. The focal point of this reorganisation is the establishing of the airport administration (law of 26 July 1975).

The extension of the main runway to 4000 m is only decided in 1981. This law of 3 June 1981 authorising the Government to proceed with the extension of Luxembourg airport, finally grants commercial aviation the resources it needs to address the future. In addition to the runway extension, the airport is equipped with all-weather landing facilities, and top line electronic systems. These new aids are commissioned in 1984; the airport offers CAT II / III services to airlines so certified by their authorities. Nowadays, it is unthinkable to attempt to deal with regular commercial traffic without these landing aids.

During this construction period, the initial ideas are laid down for a new airport development plan, taking into consideration for the very first time, the harm resulting from airport activities. This development plan concerning the airport and its surroundings is declared mandatory by a Grand Duchy regulation of 31 August 1986.

In the middle of the 80’s, a final improvement to the benefit of the administrative services and users becomes urgent. The control tower built on top of the first air terminal needs replacement. This metal construction has become too small and is suffering from wear and tear.

By the law of 11 January 1990 the Government is authorised to construct a technical and operational building with a new control tower at Luxembourg-Findel airport, including the purchase and installation of new radio-navigation equipment. Our air traffic control and radio-technical services are grouped inside the same building.

These installations are commissioned in 1992.