Over the decades the transformation and updating of Madrid-Barajas Airport to meet the demands of modern times has been clearly evident. Today’s Barajas Airport, serving the new millennium, is light years away from the airport that was opened to air traffic on 22nd April, 1931.
Its history can be summed up as follows. At the end of 1933. The Lineas Aereas Postales Españolas began commercial operations flying from Barajas to Barcelona. This was also the decade of the first international flights.
During the forties grass was replaced by tarmac and new runways were planned. The first one, surfaced in 1944 was 1.400 metres long by 48 metres wide. At the end of the decade the airport boasted three runways.
In the fifties Madrid-Barajas became one of Europe’s most complete airports with over half a million passengers annually. In 1954 Iberia’s first Super constellation took off for New York. In 1957, Madrid-Barajas received the distinction of first-category airport.
The sixties saw the first jetliners landing in Barajas, and traffic growth on account of the boom in tourism, surpassed all forecasts.
The beginning of the seventies was marked by the arrival of the first Jumbos and ten million passengers a year. Also, the new International Terminal came into service, as did the revolutionary arrive and fly concept with the Madrid-Barcelona Shuttle Service. The National Terminal was refurbished at the beginning of the eighties, coinciding with the Football World Cup being held in Spain. It was a milestone in investment in Madrid’s airport. After that discussion began as to the need to extend Barajas and how to go about it.
The extension was authorised in the nineties. The new runway was officially opened in 1998: 4.440 metres long, 60 metres wide, hard shoulders 7.5 metres wide and 81 centimetres thick. Throughout the airport’s history, forecasts have been swamped by the growth in demand. Madrid Barajas has started the 21st century with the world’s biggest airport extension, the Barajas Plan now under construction, which by 2007 should provide Madrid with one of the world’s most advanced and well-equipped airports.