Civilian air traffic officially began on 11 September 1944 at 14:47. However three days earlier at 15:00 on Friday 9 September ABA’s DC 3 “Falken” was the first civilian aircraft to touch down at the Airport. This was because it was thought wise to carry out an unofficial test ahead of the formal ceremony. The pilot of this aircraft was the legendary Carl-Gustaf von Rosen.
Air travel had in fact begun at the airport a number of years earlier when the then Norrbotten flygbaskår (Norrbotten Air Force Wing) began operations in Luleå.
Over the following years civilian air traffic continued but services ceased during the winter as, at that time, inadequate runway lighting and a lack of hangars, taxiways and terminal buildings meant services could only be provided during the summer months. From 1948 all year round air traffic was introduced.
Until 1956 scheduled traffic comprised only of services between Luleå and Stockholm but was later extended to include services between Luleå and Kiruna. In 1959 scheduled services to other coastal cities in Norrland were also introduced and since then the airport has become the hub for all air traffic in northern Sweden.
Examples of the type of aircraft that have frequented the Airport over the last 60 years are listed here in somewhat chronological order:
DC 3, SAAB-Scandia, Convair 440, Metropolitan, DC-7, DC-9, Caravelle, DC-8, B-727, DC-10, MD-80, F100, F50, F27, B-737, SF-340, SAAB-2000, MD11, Airbus 330, A320, A340, B-747, AN 124
Charter services have been available at Luleå Airport since 1969 when flights to the Canary Islands and Majorca were introduced. Forty years later these destinations are still on the list. Over the last few years a number of new destinations added spice to the list and include Thailand, Vietnam, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Tunisia, Bulgaria, Turkey and others.
Civilian station area
This area including taxiways and parking areas was officially opened in1984 and marked a major step forward in the development of air traffic in Luleå. During the following years the number of travellers has doubled and in 1991 exceeded one million. The economic climate has since had an effect on passenger numbers and this figure has not yet been passed but has hovered within reach a few times. However, the trend over the last few years has been steadily positive and the million barrier will be reached probably before year end 2008.
Through the extension of the runway to 3,350 metres, the establishment of air cargo has been a prioritised activity. The number of cargo aircraft at the airport has increased since its opening in 1999 but the airport is still waiting for the breakthrough.
Since the 1980’s a system for recycling de-icing fluid has been developed at the airport and over the last few years Luleå has spearheaded development in this area. These operations are an important part of making the airport climate neutral.