When Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) opened its doors to the public on March 14, 1972, the airport began a new era. It was one of the most technologically sophisticated facilities of its sort in Europe at the time. From check-in through boarding, all of the critical passenger-facing operations were brought together under one roof for the first time ever. The opening of Frankfurt Airport’s underground regional railway station, which provided direct access to Germany’s national rail network on the same day, marked the beginning of intermodal transportation at the airport.
‘The opening of Terminal 1 heralded the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Frankfurt Airport,’ said Dr. Stefan Schulte, Chairman and CEO of Fraport AG, which runs the airport. It was a global first when a baggage handling system was installed, and the airport’s infrastructure was up to date. All of this helped to secure the airport’s status as Germany’s premier aviation center.” We have also continued to develop the airport in collaboration with our partners throughout the previous half century.”
A long-term perspective
Plans for the new “Central Terminal,” as it was originally dubbed, were first drafted in the 1950s, and construction began in 1959. The building project itself took seven years and required the participation of up to 2,500 personnel on the construction site. It is estimated that around one billion Deutschmarks was spent on capital improvements to the terminal facilities and the underground train station. The baggage handling system has always been and will continue to be the backbone of terminal operations; it has been the key to achieving passenger transfer times of under 45 minutes from the beginning.
In his own words, CEO Schulte said, “The planners had a long-term vision.” The opening of the regional railway station served as the foundation for the establishment of effective multimodal transportation linkages. In 1974, there were 100 trains a day to and from JFK International Airport. We now have more than 500 regional and long-distance services available. And we continue to be a leader in the field of integrated transportation. “There is no other German airport that offers a greater connection to the train network.”
At its inception, the terminal was intended to serve around 30 million people per year. In 1972, the airport served around 12 million passengers. In 1992, for the first time, the 30-million-dollar threshold was surpassed. 2019 was the biggest year on record, with 70 million passengers passing through Terminal 1, with 80 percent of them leaving or arriving via the terminal.
Since the terminal’s inception, Fraport has spent around 4.5 billion euros in its expansion and continued development, according to the company.
Making preparations for the future
Terminal 1 is still the focal point of the airport and serves as a model for how to successfully develop existing infrastructure in the long term. Additional improvements will be made to the facility under the slogan of “Building the Future Transforming Terminal 1.” Passenger movements and transfers will be made easier starting in 2027 thanks to the addition of 16 security lanes with a redesigned layout and the newest technology.
The restored marketplace on the airside of Pier B will also be open to travelers, who will be able to do their shopping there.
Fraport has already implemented a number of digital and automated procedures around the airport, and the company is continuing to roll out more. This has been done in close collaboration with the airlines. The use of biometrics, for example, will make the overall passenger experience quicker and more convenient for everyone.
It will be possible to ride the Sky Line shuttle from the north to the south of the airport in the future, thanks to the addition of a new station at Terminal 1. The journey between Terminal 1 and Terminals 2 and 3 will take just eight minutes, thanks to the use of the people mover.
“The aviation sector has survived a number of big crises over the course of the previous 50 years,” Schulte said in his conclusion. In addition, we are still in the middle of the most critical crisis of our time. On the other hand, I am convinced that, over the long run, air travel will continue to grow in volume. We will be well equipped as a result of the development of Terminal 3, and we have built the framework for future expansion as well.
In addition, we are taking a proactive approach to addressing issues like as climate change, increased noise management, and digital transformation. We’re now working on the next chapters of our journey of achievement. Our investments in the Frankfurt area and the national economy, as well as our customers and workers at Germany’s gateway to the world, all benefit from our decisions.”