Scheduled air traffic to and from Gotland began as early as 1925. The German carrier Deutsche Aero Lloyd launched scheduled service on the Stockholm–Stettin/Danzig–Berlin route using a Dornier Wal seaplane, which made a stopover in Gotland. At the time, there was still not a completed airfield on land in Gotland so air traffic operated out of the bay in Slite, which was also using for swimming. One of the pilots said to have worked there was the then unknown Hermann Göring. Operations were only carried out there in 1925-26.
Gotland then had to wait until 1933 before arrangements were in place for service on land. This time, the carrier was Aerotransport (ABA), which offered summer service between Lake Tingstäde and Lindaränge – a port on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm. The plane – a Junkers 52 (Ju52) aircraft type with seating for 14–16 passengers – was therefore equipped with pontoons. During its first year, SE-ADR – also called Södermanland – flew 1,714 passengers and 22,100 kg of baggage and cargo to and from Gotland. During the Second World War, the airfield at the manor house Roma Kungsgård was also used at times.
On January 27, 1942, the airport in Visby opens. In October that year, scheduled service is launched using a tri-motor Junkers aircraft (Ju52/3). Take-offs and landings are on the grass field south of the current landing runway. The terminal is the same building that later houses the Gotland Air Museum. Traffic primarily serves Bromma Stockholm Airport, which opens in 1936.
On September 18, 1944, service using a DC3 type aircraft with seating for 21 passengers is launched. The aircraft is later rebuilt to carry 28 and then 32 passengers. The slightly larger Saab90A/2 Scandia aircraft type occasionally replaces the DC3.
Starting in 1948 AB Aerotransport (ABA) becomes part of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS). For heavy traffic during the peak summer season, four-engine aircraft such as DC4s and DC6s are added, which means that these large, heavy aircraft land on the grass airfield.
In the mid-1950s, quite a lot starts happening in terms of investing in air transport facilities. In 1956, a landing runway made of concrete/asphalt is built at Visby Airport for SEK 7 million. The following year, a new airport building is constructed at Annelund, replacing the old one at Broväg.
1958 The DC-3 is replaced by a Convair CV440 Metropolitan type aircraft with seating for 52 passengers. The newly launched carrier Linjeflyg (50-percent owned by both SAS and ABA) begins serving the Visby–Bromma Stockholm route. Service to Norrköping and Kalmar (Ronneby–Malmö) is also available then.
1972 Gotland residents are finally able use jet aircraft on their flights to and from Gotland. Linjeflyg’s aircraft fleet is upgraded to a Dutch-made Fokker F28 aircraft type, which has seating for 70–85 passengers depending on the aircraft.
1982 Linjeflyg moves all of its traffic from Bromma, which is under threat of closure, to Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
1990 The first Boeing 737 aircraft type, with seating for 131–142 passengers, is placed in service at Visby.
1986 The current terminal building at Annelund is inaugurated.
1992 Linjeflyg is acquired by SAS, which takes over scheduled service between Visby and Arlanda. The planes are the same but have SAS colours.
1994 A lot starts to happen with deregulation of domestic air traffic. Airlines begin to compete with one another for passengers. One of the main airlines is Malmö Aviation, which launches service between Visby and Bromma using BAe-146 type aircraft.
1995 Skyways takes over the Visby–Arlanda route when SAS stops flying to Visby. Skyways was originally formed by the formerly Gotland-based company Avia, founded by the Thüring husband-and-wife team in 1940.
1996 Flying Enterprise launches service on the Visby–Bromma route.
2000 Skyways acquires a number of airlines including Flying Enterprise and Highland Air, thus taking over service at Bromma and Norrköping.
2001 Gotlandsflyg, founded by some Gotland businessmen who believe competition is needed on air transport to and from the airport, starts operating at Bromma. The Visby–Bromma route is served by Golden Air using a Saab 340 aircraft type.
Over the years, the Visby–Norrköping route is served by a number of different carriers, including Avia, Swedair, Nyge, Air Express and Skyways Regional. The airline Direktflyg currently operates the route with a Jetstream 32 aircraft type.
2002 Security checks on 100% of passengers at the security checkpoint. On September 29, the first non-stop charter flight departs from Visby Airport with the tour operator Detur Turkey using a Boeing 737-800.
2003 Malmö Aviation expands its service to Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.
2004 Widerö starts flying to Oslo as a summer destination using a Dash 8 series 300 aircraft.
2006 Apollo launches non-stop charter flights from Visby.
2007 Visby offers 14 destinations, including Helsinki, Linköping, Gothenburg, Sundsvall, Ronneby and Copenhagen via Norrköping.
2008 Gotlandsflyg expands service, flying the Visby–Skavsta and Visby–Ängelholm routes year-round.
2009 A new, improved security checkpoint is built in the terminal building. SAS launches summer service on its Visby–Arlanda route using a Boeing 737.
2010 Gotlandsflyg becomes a tour operator, launching two new year-round routes to Gothenburg and Arlanda. Direktflyg takes over Skyways traffic to Bromma. Commercial aviation operations under the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration (LFV) are transferred to a new company, Swedavia, on April 1. New summer destinations are Berlin and Riga with AirBerlin and AirBaltic
2011 Norwegian operates the Visby–Arlanda route during the summer. Gotlandsflyg offers charter flights to Prague and Krakow during the autumn.
The burial ground
Across from the airport terminal is a large prehistoric burial ground, where people buried their dead over an uninterrupted period of almost two thousand years. Nearly 450 graves have been examined by archaeologists, who found that the oldest grave dates back to the Stone Age, 1800 BC, while the most recent one is from the late Iron Age, about 200 AD. After being excavated, the graves were returned to their original state.
Most graves contained cremated remains but some skeletons were also found. In prehistoric times, it was common to bury the dead in their clothes along with gifts. People believed they had to be prepared with everything they needed in their journey to the next life. Remnants of garments, jewellery, weapons, food and drink were found in the graves. The variety and beauty of the graves bear witness to the great care of the dead taken by our forefathers.