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Salzburg Airport – 90 Years of Service

For 90 years Salzburg Airport has served the region’s citizens and their visitors. In 1926, the Salzburg Municipal Airfield was opened nearly at the same site where the airport stands today.


Germany’s Lufthansa was the first airline to use the airport, linking Salzburg with Munich via Reichenhall.

Salzburg Airport in 1926
Salzburg Airport in 1926

ÖLAG and Lufthansa were the most frequent airport users during the 1930s with flights to Vienna, Budapest and Zurich. After the German occupation in 1938, the airport was operated by the Wehrmacht although civil traffic continued. The first concrete runway, named 10-28 and 1,200 meters long, was opened in 1944, to accommodate heavier aircraft.

After WW II, the Americans established their Austrian headquarters in Salzburg, took over the airfield and renamed it Salzburg Airport. Traffic increased as several Western Allies carriers including Pan Am and BEA started operations.

The new north-south runway 16-34 opening in 1960 marked the beginning of Salzburg’s role as the main gateway to western Austria. Austrian Airlines commenced jet services in 1964 with Caravelle aircraft. The current passenger terminal was inaugurated in 1966.


Traffic had risen to 250,000 passengers annually by the early 1970s. After lengthening the runway to 2,550 m, the airport was able to accommodate wide-body jets for incoming charter traffic. The airport handled half a million passengers in 1987 and one million in 1993.


In 1996, the airport adopted the name of its most famous son - W. A. Mozart.

With its 2,850 meters of runway and CAT III low visibility operations, Salzburg became more attractive for scheduled and charter services.

In 2000, 1.6 million passengers were handled.

The number of non-stop destinations serviced from Salzburg has changed dramatically since 2001, when the first low-cost carrier Ryanair started flights to the Mozart city. More low-cost airlines from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia followed, bringing the total to a record 1.87 million passengers in 2006.


The airport became the first in Europe to operate a hybrid terminal building serving the dual purpose of charter flight housing during winter and use as an event hall in Summer.


Salzburg Airport has come a long way from the grass strip and wooden terminal of 1926 – but it still continues to provide services needed for the passengers travelling to and from the region.


In March 2014 Salzburg Airport and Austro Control successfully completed the implementation-phase for the new tower. With the latest state-of-the-art infrastructure and multiple redundant air traffic management systems, the new control tower is one of the most modern in Europe. The 53-metre high construction is visible from far and wide and will become a new landmark for both the airport and city. Its height and location 35 metres to the west of the old tower provides Austro Control’s air traffic controllers with an excellent view of the airport and its surrounding areas. 


In July 2015 the new business lounge (80 m²) was opened at the Airport.


In August 2016, German low-cost airline Eurowings announced to open its second Austrian base in Salzburg with flights to six European metropolitan destinations from January 2017.