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Historical facts about Stockholm Arlanda Airport

In 1946, the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) agrees to establish a major airport next to Lake Halmsjön. At the time, air traffic flies out of Bromma Stockholm.

Construction on the airport begins in 1952. The economy is in a slump, so a simple concrete runway – the Halmsjön Runway – is built.

On November 26, 1954, the first official flight from Bromma to Halmsjön takes off. The inaugural pilot, Georg Lindow, says to the press, "Nowhere else in the world have I seen a newly constructed runway that was designed as stupidly as the Halmsjön Runway".

The concrete runway is nicknamed “the hump runway” because of its corkscrew-like shape and is little used. Several years later, the Halmsjön Runway is converted into what is today the taxiway by Runway 2.

The new airport is to be christened. A competition to name it is announced in Året Runt magazine in 1958, but the jury does not like any of the names and instead puts forward its own suggestion, Arlanda, since the airport is located in the parish of Husby-Ärlinghundra, known in popular parlance as Arland. The name “Stockholm-Arlanda Airport” is approved by the Riksdag.

The main runway, Runway 1, is opened in 1959. The airport starts to be used for scheduled service. On June 23, 1960, a Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) Douglas DC-8 takes off on the first scheduled flight to New York. The present-day field garage serves as the terminal. The airport’s first hangar, “the DC8 hangar”, is built.

On April 1, 1962, “Stockholm-Arlanda Airport” is officially declared open by King Gustav VI Adolf. International flights are moved from Bromma to Stockholm Arlanda.

The international terminal, “Arlanda International” (now Terminal 5), is inaugurated in 1976 by King Carl XVI Gustav. All international flights, scheduled and charter, are moved here.

Domestic Terminal 1 (now Terminal 4) is inaugurated in 1983 by King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia. On January 1, 1984, SAS’s domestic service and Linjeflyg move here (from Bromma).

It turns out that the terminal is 25 per cent too small from the very beginning. That is because domestic traffic has grown far more than was forecast.

Domestic 2 (now Terminal 2) is inaugurated in 1990 by Prince Bertil. SAS moves its domestic flights here. However, a tough recession reduces passenger numbers, and SAS moves out again in 1992. The terminal is reconfigured for both domestic and international flights. The terminals are now given new names with numbers (2,3,4,5).

The economy is recovering and air travel is increasing as never before. It is crowded at Stockholm Arlanda. On November 10, 1998, the official ground-breaking for Runway 3 takes place. After this, construction soon begins on a new air traffic control tower, a new fire station and a new terminal (a third pier for Terminal 5). In 1999, the high-speed train Arlanda Express begins service between the Stockholm Central Station and Stockholm Arlanda.

The airport must be adapted before Sweden joins the Schengen area in 2001. This entails major reconfigurations in Terminals 2 and 5. Terminal 2 now becomes solely an international terminal, and Terminal 5 gets a fourth level in order to separate Schengen area travellers from passengers travelling from “a third country.”

On December 23, 2001, the new air traffic control tower, 83 metres high, is placed in service. In January 2002, a new pier in Terminal 5 is also placed in service.  The tower, pier and runway are then inaugurated by Crown Princess Victoria on May 29, 2002. But there is no inaugural flight that day – instead, it takes place on April 17, 2003, when the third runway can finally be placed in service.

On the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, December 17, 2003, Infrastructure Minister Ulrika Messing inaugurates Stockholm Arlanda’s total expansion – Runway 3, the third pier in Terminal 5, the new air traffic control tower and the railway into Arlanda C train station.