FRA turns 80: From grass airstrip to global aviation hub

One of the busiest aviation hubs in the world, Frankfurt Airport handles more than 2.25 million tonnes of cargo along with 82,300 tonnes of mail each year and serves more than 60 million passengers a year. Celebrating its 80th Anniversary, here’s a look back at FRA over the years.


Frankfurt Airport turns 80 The landing of the Ju 52 on the 8 July 1936.

Some 80 years ago – on 8 July 1936 – Frankfurt Airport (FRA) was officially opened at its current location, when a Junkers Ju 52/3m aircraft made its firstlanding at FRA. Over time, Frankfurt Airport has become one of the world’s most important air transportation hubs, in part due to its favourable location in the heart of Europe. To celebrate the 80th anniversary, Fraport – the owner and operator of Frankfurt Airport – is looking back at the successful development of its home-base airport.

At the opening on 8 July 1936, nobody could have foreseen how the ‘Rhein-Main airport and airship station’ (as FRA was then called) would develop over the next years and decades. There had been significant growth in civil aviation since the First World War and as a result, in 1937, the airport already counted almost 71,000 passengers.

“But at that time, the airport still looked very much like a farm,” emphasises 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.