Schiphol's hidden runways

Our airport has six runways for take-off and landing. Or does it? Actually, we have nine. The three 'hidden' runways are located at Schiphol-East, where our story once began

Obviously, Schiphol has not always looked the way that it does today. Our airport has grown over the years. Schiphol used to be no more than a strip of grass and an apron in the early days. In 1938, we were one of the first airports in Europe to have four concrete runways (pictured). This time is when our hidden runways have their origins, as some of these original runways for take-off and landing are still visible today.












Spot the difference

Take a look on Google Earth with us. Can you spot the three runways? One end of the east-west runway is no longer there, but you can still see its outline in the grass. When Schiphol was expanded during World War II and in the 1950s, all of the runways were extended. In those days, all aircraft took off and landed here. However, this situation changed in 1967, when Schiphol's operations moved from Schiphol-East to the current terminal building in Schiphol-Centre.












From east to west

By the time that Schiphol-Centre opened, we had gained an additional four runways for take-off and landing. With the arrival of runway 09-27, the old east-west runway shown in red had become obsolete. Together with the equally short red runway, it became a taxiway in the direction of Schiphol-East. All that remained was the blue runway, which was used for take-off and landing until the early 1990s, if only sporadically. It had simply become too short for newer, larger types of aircraft. Nowadays, this last 'hidden' runway for take-off and landing also serves as a taxiway and as aircraft parking space in winter. The reason is that charter airlines such as TUI and Transavia schedule more departures from Schiphol in summer than in winter. In the off-season, they need somewhere to park their planes. Our old runway gives them a good run for their money.