Bilbao Airport, a fundamental pillar for the air connectivity of the Basque Country and the Cantabrian coast, celebrates its 75th anniversary. Since its inauguration as a modest aerodrome in 1948, it has undergone a long process of growth and modernization, becoming a catalyst for the economy of the territory and a symbol of progress and innovation.
Throughout its history, the infrastructure has reached several milestones that have marked its evolution and consolidated its position as a strategic element for Biscay and its area of influence. Thus, in 2019, the Airports Council International (ACI) granted it the “Best Airport in Europe Award” in the category of airfields with a volume of between 5 and 10 million passengers per year.
The following is a compilation of the most relevant chapters of its extensive trajectory:
The day after its inauguration, on September 20, 1948, the first regular commercial flight to Madrid took off, operated by Aviaco.
Two years later, in 1950, the terminal building was inaugurated, essential to reach its next milestone in 1952, when the first international route Bilbao-Bordeaux was launched, thus connecting the capital of Biscay with London and Paris.
Bilbao Airport continued to progress during the 1960s, with the extension of the original runway, 10-28, to 2,000 meters in 1964, which made it possible for larger aircraft to take off and land at Loiu. Three years later, in 1967, Iberia launched its first routes from Bilbao to Zaragoza and Madrid. That same year, the aerodrome served more than 100,000 passengers.
The seventies came with the expansion of the terminal, and the inauguration of the 2,600 meters long 12-30 runway, with better orientation to face the adverse weather conditions of the Txorierri Valley.
In 1982, in the context of the Football World Cup held in the capital of Biscay, the terminal was modernized and new accesses to the airport were built.
In 1990 Euskadi expanded its connection with the great European capitals of the time thanks to the arrival of Lufthansa, which began operating its first routes to Frankfurt, making it possible to reach the figure of 1 million passengers that same year.
With the arrival of the new millennium, commercial aviation in Bilbao underwent a real evolution with the inauguration of a modern, bright and better-connected terminal, ideal for becoming a strategic and international hub.
In recent years, Bilbao Airport has continued to grow, modernizing its facilities and expanding its route network to connect with more than 60 domestic and international destinations today, serving more than 6 million people a year. From the beginning of its existence in 1948 until today, more than 120 million travelers have landed and taken off from the capital of Biscay.