Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol ( /ˈʃɪpɒl/;Dutch: Luchthaven Schiphol, Dutch pronunciation: ) (IATA: AMS, ICAO: EHAM) is the Netherlands' main international airport, located 20 minutes (4.9 NM (9.1 km; 5.6 mi)) southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. The airport's official English name, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, reflects the original Dutch word order (Luchthaven Schiphol). The airport used to have the IATA code of SPL, which has fallen into disuse and has been replaced by AMS. The airport is the primary hub for KLM, Martinair, Transavia, Amsterdam Airlines and Arkefly. The airport also serves as a European hub for Delta Air Lines. It is considered to be an Airport City.


Schiphol is an important European airport, ranking as Europe’s 5th largest and the world's 20th largest by total passenger traffic. It also ranks as the world’s 6th largest by international passenger traffic and the world’s 17th largest for cargo tonnage.

45.3 million passengers passed through the airport in 2010, a 4% increase compared with 2009.

Schiphol's main competitors in terms of passenger traffic and cargo throughput are London Heathrow Airport, Frankfurt Airport, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Madrid-Barajas Airport.

In 2009, around 67% of passengers using the airport flew to and from Europe, 12% to and from North America and around 9% to and from Asia; cargo volume was mainly between Schiphol and Asia (45%) and North America (16%).

In 2009 direct passenger flights were operated to 265 destinations, with a further 19 freighter-only routes. The airport is one out of eight airports in the world to have a rating of four or more stars in Skytrax's grading system.

Schiphol has six runways, one of which is used mainly by general aviation aircraft. The northern end of the Polderbaan, the name of last runway to be constructed, is 7 km north of the control tower, causing lengthy taxi times (up to 20 min) to the terminal. Plans have been made for a seventh runway.

The airport is built as one large terminal, split into three large departure halls, which converge again once airside. The most recent of these was completed in 1994, and expanded in 2007 with a new part, named Terminal 4, although this part is not recognised as a separate building. Plans for further terminal expansion exist, including the construction of a separate new terminal between the Zwanenburgbaan and Polderbaan runways that would end the one-terminal concept.

Because of intense traffic and high landing fees, some low cost carriers decided to move their flights to smaller airports, such as Rotterdam The Hague Airport and Eindhoven Airport. Many low cost carriers (like EasyJet or Bmibaby) continue to operate from Schiphol, using the low-cost H-pier.

Schiphol is the home base of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), Arkefly, Martinair, Amsterdam Airlines and Transavia.

The Schiphol Air traffic control tower, with a height of 101 metres (331 ft), was the tallest in the world when constructed in 1991. Schiphol is geographically one of the world's lowest major commercial airports. The entire airport is below sea level; the lowest point sits at 11 feet (3.4 m) below sea level (or 4.5 feet (1.4 m) below the Dutch Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP)); the runways are around 3 metres (9.8 ft) below NAP.

Schiphol is equipped with 18 double jetway gates in preparation for airlines introducing the Airbus A380 to date none have. Malaysian Airlines are expected to do so in 2012.


Schiphol has large shopping areas as a source of revenue and as an additional attraction for passengers. Schiphol Plaza is the shopping centre before customs, hence it is used by air travelers and non-traveling visitors.

The Rijksmuseum operates an annex at the airport, offering a small overview of both classical and contemporary art. Admission to the exhibits is free.

In summer 2010, the world's first permanent airport library opened alongside the museum, providing passengers access to a collection of 1,200 books (translated into 29 languages) by Dutch authors or on subjects relating to the country’s history and culture. The 968-square-foot (89.9 m2) library offers e-books and music by Dutch artists and composers that can be downloaded free of charge to a laptop or mobile device.

Schiphol has its own mortuary, where the dead can be handled and kept before departure or after arrival. Since October 2006, people can also get married at Schiphol.

For aviation enthusiasts, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has a large rooftop viewing area, called the Panoramaterras. It is not accessible to connecting passengers unless they first exit the airport. Enthusiasts and the public can enter, free of charge, from the airport's landside. Since June 2011, it is the location for a KLM Cityhopper Fokker 100, modified to be a viewing exhibit. Besides the Panoramaterras, Schiphol has other spotting sites, especially along the newest Polderbaan runway and at the McDonald's restaurant at the north side of the airport.

The wayfinding signage at Schiphol was designed in 1991 by Paul Mijksenaar.


Schiphol opened on 16 September 1916 as a military airbase, consisting of a few barracks and a field serving as both platform and runways. When civil aircraft started to make use of the field (17 December 1920), it was often called Schiphol-les-bains. The Fokker aircraft manufacturer started a factory near Schiphol airport in 1919.

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 was the main reason for reclaiming it. In English, Schiphol translates to 'Ship Grave', a reference to the number of ships lost in the area.


Schiphol uses a one terminal concept, where all facilities are located under a single roof, fanning off the central 'plaza'. 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 airside (i.e. past security), passengers cannot go to any of the other halls or piers. Immigration control separates Schengen from non-Schengen Areas. Schiphol Airport has approximately 165 boarding gates available.

  • Consists of Piers B and C - both of which are dedicated Schengen areas.
  • Consists of Piers D and E.
    • Pier D is the largest pier and 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-60 and up, non-Schengen gates are numbered from D-1 to D-59.
    • Pier E is a dedicated non-Schengen area.
  • Consists of F, G, H and M.
    • Piers F, G and H are non-Schengen areas; of these, Piers H and M are the low-cost piers.
    • Pier M is a dedicated Schengen area.

Note: The airlines and destinations listed are not definite since very few airlines have a dedicated pier or gates; the piers listed below are based on regularity.

Airlines and destinations
Scheduled cargo airlines
Other users
  • Dutch Coast Guard (aircraft operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force)
  • Dienst Luchtvaart Politie
  • Dutch Dakota Association
Other facilities

TransPort Building on the Schiphol Airport property houses the head offices of Martinair and Construction on the building, which has 10,800 square metres (116,000 sq ft) of lettable space, began on 17 March 2009. Schiphol Group and the architect firm Paul de Ruiter designed the building, while De Vries and Verburg, a firm of Stolwijk, constructed the building.

World Trade Center Schiphol Airport houses the head office of SkyTeam and the Netherlands offices of Iran Air. The head office of Schiphol Group, the airport's operator, is located on the airport property. The Convair Building, with its development beginning after a parcel was earmarked for its development in 1999, houses KLM offices, including KLM Recruitment Services and the head office of KLM Cityhopper. The original control tower of Schiphol Airport, which the airport authorities had moved slightly from its original location, now houses a restaurant. The area Schiphol-Rijk includes the head offices of Arkefly and Amsterdam Airlines.

At one time KLM had its head office on the grounds of Schiphol Airport. Its current head office in Amstelveen had a scheduled completion at the end of 1970. Previously Martinair had its head office in the Schiphol Center (Dutch: Schiphol Centrum) at Schiphol Airport. Previously the head office of was in the Building Triport III at Schiphol Airport.NLM Cityhopper and later KLM Cityhopper previously had their head offices in Schiphol Airport building 70.

Ground transport

The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the national Dutch train operator, has a major passenger railway station directly underneath the passenger terminal complex and offers transportation into Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam and many other cities. There are intercity connections to Amsterdam Centraal, Utrecht Centraal, both The Hague Centraal and The Hague HS, Rotterdam Centraal, Eindhoven, Groningen and Enschede. Schiphol is also a stop for the international high-speed train Thalys, connecting the airport with a direct train connection to Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. NS Hispeed operates an InterCity train service from Schiphol airport to Berlin every two hours. It runs via Amsterdam Zuid, Amersfoort, Bad Bentheim, Osnabrück and Hannover, taking about 6.5 hours from Schiphol to Berlin.


See also:

To plan your journey go to or and select Noord Holland.



Schiphol Airport can easily be reached by car via the highways A4 and A9. Schiphol offers several car parking facilities, known as short stay, long stay and Smart Parking.

Accidents and incidents
  • 14 November 1946, A Douglas C-47 operated by KLM from London approached Schiphol during bad weather conditions. The first two attempts to land failed. During the third attempt, 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.
  • 4 October 1992, El Al Flight 1862, a Boeing 747 cargo airplane heading to Tel Aviv, suffered 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 43 people were killed, including the plane's crew of three and a "non revenue passenger". Several others were injured.
  • 4 April 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 because of a faulty warning light. On final approach at a height of 90 feet (27 m), the captain decided to go-around and gave full throttle on only the number one engine leaving the other in flight idle. 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.
  • 25 February 2005, The largest diamond robbery occurred at Schipol
  • 27 October 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 in force. A national outrage resulted in the resignation of Justice Minister Donner (CDA) and Mayor Hartog of Haarlemmermeer. Spatial Planning Minister Dekker (VVD) resigned as well, because she bore responsibility for the construction, safety, and maintenance of state-owned buildings.
  • 25 February 2009, Turkish Airlines Flight 1951, a Boeing 737-800 from Istanbul crashed on approach to the airport's Polderbaan, just 1 km short of the runway. The plane carried 128 passengers and 7 crew on board. 9 people were killed and a further 86 were injured, including six with serious injuries. An initial report from the Dutch Safety Board revealed that the left radio altimeter had failed to provide the correct height above the ground and suddenly reported -8 feet. As a cause of this the autothrottle system closed the thrust levers to idle, as it is programmed to reduce thrust when below 27 feet (8.2 m) radio altitude. This eventually resulted in a dropping airspeed which was not acted upon until it was too late to recover and the aircraft stalled and crashed in a field.
  • 25 December 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, an Islamic terrorist from Nigeria, set off an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus A330 from Schiphol as the plane was landing at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Romulus, Michigan. The device failed to go off correctly, and the suspect suffered burns to his lower body. Three other passengers had minor injuries.
  • 13 January 2010, an Arkefly Boeing 767-300 PH-AHQ operating flight OR361 from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Aruba Airport declared an emergency after a man who claimed to have a bomb on board began a struggle with the flight crew, the aircraft made an emergency landing at Shannon Airport. Gardai stormed the plane and arrested the man, where he was taken to Shannon Garda station. A passenger who had surgery the previous month collapsed in the terminal while waiting for the continuation of the flight and had to be taken to a local hospital. A replacement aircraft, also a Boeing 767-300, continued the flight to Aruba.
  • 2 March 2010, a Corendon Airlines pilot, of Swedish origin, was arrested at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol after flying commercial jets for 13 years without a licence. He was due to fly a Boeing 737-400 to Ankara, Turkey with 101 passengers on board when the Dutch police arrested him. A back-up pilot was standing by to fly the jet to its destination. It is reported that he had clocked up to 10,000 hours flying passenger jets for various European airlines and 2 years with Corendon Airlines before the tip off from Swedish authorities. The licence he held was to fly light aircraft, but that licence expired 13 years before the incident.
  • 2 October 2010, a Corendon Airlines Boeing 737-400 landed in bad weather on the short (2014 meter) Oostbaan (04/22) and the plane overshot the runway resulting in the nosewheel landing in the mud at the end of the runway. According to the airline this runway shouldn't have been used in heavy rain

Building Activity

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    Jimmy Boon commented
    Mooie plek veel leuke winkeltjes je verveelt je nooit als je wacht op je vliegtuig
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