see pier

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the Netherlands' main airport, located 20 minutes (17.5 km or 10.8 miles) southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. The airport's official English name, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, places the words in the Dutch order (Luchthaven Schiphol) instead of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The airport also had the IATA code of SPL but this has fallen into disuse.


Schiphol is a European mainport, competing in passenger and cargo throughput with London Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom, Frankfurt International Airport in Germany, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in France and Madrid Barajas International Airport in Spain. In 2007, Schiphol handled 47,793,602 passengers, ranking fifth in Europe behind London, Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid. There are 188 loading slots in the whole airport. Almost 35% of its passengers traveled on intercontinental flights. In the same year, Schiphol handled 1,566,828 tons of cargo, ranked third in Europe behind Paris and Frankfurt. In 2005 direct flights were operated to more than 260 destinations in 91 countries. It is currently given a rating of four stars by Skytrax's airport grading exercise along with five other airports.

Schiphol has five main runways, plus one used mainly by general aviation aircraft. The "fifth runway" (really the sixth) was completed in 2003. Plans have already been made for a seventh runway.

The airport is built as one large terminal split into three large departure halls, the most recent having been completed in 1994, which converge again once airside. The 1994 Terminal 3 was expanded in 2007 with the new part named Terminal 4, although this part can not be recognised as a separate building. Plans for further terminal expansion exist, most notably with a separate new terminal located between the Zwanenburgbaan and Polderbaan runways. This would end the one-terminal concept, but these long-existing plans have not materialised yet.

Because of the intense traffic and high landing fees, some low cost carriers decided to move their flights to smaller airports, such as Rotterdam and Eindhoven. However, especially with the low-cost H-pier becoming operational, many low cost carriers (like easyJet, SkyEurope, and bmibaby) continue to operate from Schiphol.

Schiphol is the home base of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), Martinair and Transavia, and a hub for Northwest Airlines in cooperation with KLM.

Schiphol is the world's lowest major commercial airport. The Schiphol Air traffic control tower, with a height of 101 m, was the tallest in the world when constructed in 1991. Its base is 3 m below sea level.


Schiphol started out on Sep 16, 1916, as a military airbase, consisting only of a few barracks and a mudpool serving as platform/runways. When civil aircraft started to make use of the field (Dec 17, 1920), it was often called Schiphol-les-bains. The Fokker aircraft manufacturer started a factory near Schiphol airport in 1951.

Schiphol's name is derived from a former fortification named Fort Schiphol which was part of the Stelling van Amsterdam defence works. Before 1852, the Haarlemmermeer polder in which the airport lies was a large lake, in the shallow waters of which sudden violent storms could claim many ships. This indeed was the main reason for reclaiming it. In English, Schiphol translates to 'Ship Hole', a reference to the amount of ships lost in the area.

Schiphol has won more than 120 prizes over the years. In 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990 and 2003, it was voted the best airport in the world. It was honoured with the title of "Best European Airport" during 15 consecutive years (1988-2003) and has won a lot more prizes, including "Best Business Travel Airport". This is not only because of its usually perfectly organized operations, but also because of its high number of international and intercontinental flights.


  • November 14, 1946 - A Douglas C-47 operated by KLM coming from London approached Schiphol during bad weather conditions. The first two attempts to land failed. During the third the pilot realized that the airplane wasn't lined up properly with the runway. A sharp left turn was made at low speed, causing the left wing to hit the ground. The airplane crashed and caught fire, killing all 26 people on board, including the plane's crew of five.
  • October 4, 1992 - El Al Flight 1862, a Boeing 747 cargo airplane heading to Tel Aviv, suffered from physical engine separation of both right-wing engines (#3 and #4) just after taking off from Schiphol and crashed into an apartment building in the Bijlmer neighbourhood of Amsterdam while attempting to return to the airport. A total of 47 people were killed, including the plane's crew of three and a "nonrevenue passenger". Many more were injured.
  • April 4, 1994 - Flight KL433 to Cardiff, a Saab 340 operated by KLM Cityhopper, returned to Schiphol after setting the number two engine to flight idle because the crew mistakenly believed that the engine suffered from low oil pressure, this because of a faulty warning light. On final approach at a height of 90 feet, the captain decided to go-around and gave full throttle, however only on the number one engine leaving the other in flight idle. Because of this, the airplane rolled to the right, pitched up, stalled and hit the ground at 80 degrees bank. Of the twenty-four people on board, three were killed including the captain. Nine others were seriously injured.
  • October 27, 2005 - A fire broke out at the airport's detention center, killing 11 people and injuring 15. The complex was holding 350 people at the time of the incident. Results from the investigation almost one year later showed that fire safety precautions were not (or never) in force. There was a national outrage resulting in the resignation of Justice Minister Donner (CDA) and Mayor Hartog of Haarlemmermeer. Spatial Planning Minister Dekker (VVD) resigned as well, because she bears responsibility for the construction, safety and maintenance of state-owned buildings.


Schiphol has large shopping areas as a source of revenue and as an additional attraction for air-carrier passengers. Schiphol Plaza is the shopping centre before customs, hence it is not only for air travellers, but also for non-travelling visitors. There is a regular-s.

The Rijksmuseum also operates an annex at the airport, offering a small overview of both classical and contemporary art.

Schiphol also has its own mortuary, where deceased people can be handled and kept before departure or after arrival. Since October 2006 people can also get married at Schiphol and go straight to their honeymoon.

For aviation enthusiasts, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has a viewing platform, named the Panorama Terrace. At this time the Panorama Terrace cannot be accessed by connecting passengers. As well as the Panorama Terrace, Schiphol is a popular spotting site from various locations at the famous Polderbaan runway.


The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the national Dutch train operator, has a major passenger train station directly underneath the passenger terminal complex. Besides intercity connections to Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam and Eindhoven, this station also is a stop for the international high-speed train Thalys, connecting the airport with a direct train connection to Antwerp, Brussels and Paris.

Terminals and destinations

Schiphol is deploying a one terminal concept, where all facilities are located under one single roof. The areas though, are divided into three sections or halls: 1, 2 and 3. To all of these halls, piers or concourses are connected. However, it is possible, on both sides of security or customs, to walk from one pier to another, even if they are connected to different halls. The exception to this is the low-cost pier M: once you are airside (i.e. you passed security), you cannot go to any of the other halls or piers. When changing between Schengen and non-Schengen areas, there is immigration control.

Piers B and C are dedicated Schengen areas. Pier E, F and G are dedicated non-Schengen areas. Piers D and H/M are mixed piers, using the same gate positions for Schengen and non-Schengen flights.

Pier D has two floor levels. The lower floor is used for non-Schengen flights, the upper floor is used for Schengen flights. By using stairs, the same jetways are used to access the aircraft. Schengen gates are numbered D-59 and up, non-Schengen gates are numbered from D-1 to D-59.

Piers H and M, the low-cost pier, share the same construction. Here, the H-gates are non-Schengen gates, the M-gates are Schengen gates. Both areas are on the same level.

NOTE: The airlines and destinations listed are not definite; very few airlines have a daily pier; this is based on regularity.

Departure Hall 1

Pier B

Pier C

Departure Hall 2

Pier D

  • Aer Lingus (Belfast-International, Cork, Dublin)
  • Aer Arann (Galway, Waterford)
  • Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
  • Air Astana (Almaty, Atyrau)
  • AirBaltic (Riga) [begins October 26]
  • Armavia (Yerevan)
  • Atlas Blue (Nador, Oujda, Tanger)
  • bmi (Aberdeen, London-Heathrow)
  • British Airways (London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow)
  • Bulgaria Air (Sofia)
  • Croatia Airlines (Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula)
  • Czech Airlines (Prague)
  • Cyprus Airways (Larnaca, Paphos)
  • FlyLal (Vilnius)
  • Jat Airways (Belgrade)
  • KLM (Non-Schengen leave from one half of D, Schengen leave from the other) Aberdeen, Athens, Bahrain, Barcelona, Bergen, Berlin-Tegel, Birmingham, Bucharest-Otopeni, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Geneva, Glasgow-International, Helsinki, Istanbul-Atatürk, Kiev-Boryspil, Lisbon, London-Heathrow, Luxembourg, Madrid, Manchester, Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Munich, Nice, Oslo, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Prague, Rome-Fiumicino, St. Petersburg, Stockholm-Arlanda, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Thessaloniki, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, Zürich)
    • operated by KLM Cityhopper (Aberdeen, Bergen, Billund, Bologna, Bremen, Bristol, Brussels, Cardiff, Cologne/Bonn, Durham Tees Valley, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Glasgow-International, Hamburg, Hanover, Humberside, Kristiansand, Leeds/Bradford, Linköping, London-City, Luxembourg, Manchester, Munich, Newcastle, Nice, Norwich, Nuremberg, Riga, Sandefjord, Stavanger, Toulouse, Trondheim, Zürich)
  • Malév Hungarian Airlines (Budapest)
  • Martinair (Shorthaul)
  • Rossiya (St. Petersburg)
  • Royal Air Maroc (Casablanca, Tangier)
  • (See Pier C)
  • Ukraine International Airlines (Kiev-Boryspil)

Pier E

  • Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
  • China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Guangzhou)
  • EVA Air (Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Taipei-Taoyuan)
  • Japan Airlines (Tokyo-Narita)
  • KLM (Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Accra, Addis Ababa, Almaty, Aruba, Atlanta, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing, Bonaire, Cairo, Cape Town, Chengdu, Chicago-O'Hare, Curaçao, Dallas/Fort Worth, Damascus, Dammam, Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Detroit, Doha, Dubai, Entebbe, Guayaquil, Hong Kong, Houston-Intercontinental, Hyderabad, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Kano, Karachi [resumes 2009], Khartoum, Kilimanjaro, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lagos, Lima, Los Angeles, Luanda [begins late 2008, pending government approval], Manila, Mexico City, Montréal, Muscat, Mumbai, Nairobi, New York-JFK, Osaka-Kansai, Panama City, Paramaribo, Quito, San Francisco, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Surabaya [begins end 2008], Taipei-Taoyuan, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Tel Aviv, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Tripoli, Vancouver, Washington-Dulles)
    • operated by PrivatAir (Houston-Intercontinental)
  • Northwest Airlines (Boston, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mumbai, New York-JFK, Newark, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma, Washington-Dulles)
  • Singapore Airlines (Singapore)

Departure Hall 3

  • (Most flights departing from Pier D) Agadir, Alicante, Algiers, Antalya, Banjul, Barcelona, Bergerac, Berlin-Tegel, Bodrum, Corfu, Dalaman, Djerba, Dubrovnik, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Heraklion, Izmir, Kefalonia, Kos, Kithira, La Palma, Las Palmas, Lesbos, Lisbon, Malaga, Marrakech, Milan-Orio, Monastir, Montpellier, Nice, Ohrid, Pau-Pyrenées, Pisa, Prevesa, Reus, Tel Aviv, Tenerife, Treviso, Valencia, Zakinthos)

Pier F

Pier G

Pier H

  • easyJet (Belfast-International, Bristol, Glasgow-International [begins 30 March], Liverpool, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Stansted)
  • bmibaby (Birmingham, Cardiff, East Midlands, Manchester [begins 29 March])
  • Flybe (Exeter, Southampton)
  • (Leeds/Bradford)
  • Sky Airlines (Antalya)

Pier M

Cargo airlines

Airport Schiphol in media

In the 1983 book Floodgate by Alistair MacLean, Schiphol is subject to a terrorist attack, in which the entire airport is flooded, after an explosion of the surrounding dikes.


External links

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