The Netherlands is a nation with a rich aviation heritage.
Flying has always been important here, especially in historically connecting the nation’s overseas territories, like Dutch East India (which is Indonesia today) and Dutch West Indies (which is parts of the Caribbean today).
National airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is one of the oldest in the world, having been founded in 1919. Today it is a mighty force, together with its partners Air France, Delta Air Lines and low-cost offshoot Transavia Airlines.
There are a number of interesting airports in the Netherlands. All are worthwhile visiting if you’re an enthusiast, depending on what you’re interested in seeing.
Here’s an overview of the airports in the Netherlands:
AMS | EHAM
Schiphol today is one of the world’s largest and busiest airports, having cemented its place in the aviation world at an early age despite the relatively small size of the Netherlands.
It is the main global hub for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, plus its Cityhopper and Cargo offshoots. Its blue planes dominate and can be seen everywhere.
Schiphol is also a bug for AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Corendon Dutch Airlines, Delta Air Lines, easyJet, LEVEL, Martinair, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Transavia and TUI fly Netherlands.
The airport has six runways, and one large central passenger terminal complex.
To the east is an area for general aviation and biz jets. There are cargo terminals in various locations.
Thankfully, Schiphol is geared towards aviation enthusiasts. It has a Panorama Terrace atop the terminal, plus dedicated viewing areas around the perimeter (the best are near McDonalds on the northern side, and near the newer “Polderbaan” runway 18R/36L way off to the west.
The best spotting hotel is the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport near the terminal.
DHR | EHKD
De Kooy Airfield serves the small city of Den Helder, about an hour’s drive north of Amsterdam. It has a single runway, but at present no airline service.
In the past it has been served by various regional airlines linking it with the UK, particularly because of the city’s link to the North Sea oil industry.
Because of this, Den Helder is a busy hub for helicopters ferrying workers out to oil rigs.
You’ll also see general aviation, military and business aircraft using the airport.
There are views from the car parks and roads outside the helicopter terminal.
EIN | EHEH
Eindhoven is the second busiest airport in the Netherlands, and a mixed civil/military facility which handles most of the Royal Netherlands Air Force fleet, including their transport and tanker aircraft. Ryanair, Transavia and TUI fly Netherlands have bases here and provide most of the passenger flights, alongside other low-cost and leisure carriers.
The airport has a single runway. The military base occupies facilities on both sides, while the passenger terminal and apron is in the north-east corner.
Inside the terminal there is a viewing area located upstairs near the restaurant which is behind glass. Its views are limited, but you’ll see anything that uses the runway.
The aptly named Spottersweg road runs past the end of runway 21 and has an official parking lot for spotters to use, which offers great views of aircraft landing from the north. To reach it drive or walk north from the terminal along Luchthavenweg and turn left onto Spottersweg after the ASL building.
GRQ | EHGG
Groningen is a small airport in the north of the Netherlands which handes airlines like Corendon, Flybe, Transavia and TUI fly Netherlands. It is not busy.
General aviation and flight training make up the majority of movements, alongside helicopter and executive aircraft. Sometimes you’ll see airliners bashing the circuit for crew training.
There is a restaurant in the terminal with a terrace offering views over the main apron through glass.
LEY | EHLE
Lelystad is at present the main general aviation airport in the Netherlands, and quite a busy one.
With a new passenger terminal recently constructed, as well as an extension to the runway, the plan is for it to become more of a commercial airport with plans to transfer in low-cost and leisure airlines from Schiphol.
It is less than an hour from Amsterdam by train or car, so an easy alternative airport which could free up slots at the busier Schiphol hub.
At present you can walk along the line of hangars from the airport entrance road, and it’s often possible to arrange airside access in advance. This will probably change in the future.
Another reason for any enthusiast to visit Lelystad is for the excellent Aviodrome museum which tells the story of aviation in Holland through many preserved historic aircraft. These include quite a few Fokker aircraft, from its early machines right up to the Fokker 50 and 100. There’s also a Boeing 747-200 SUD, and historic Douglas DC-2 and Lockheed Constellation. See our report here: https://www.airportspotting.com/visit-aviodrome-museum-lelystad/
MST | EHBK
This airport is very close to the German border and city of Aachen. It’s fairly quiet for passenger flights, which are mainly made up of Ryanair and Corendon Airlines aircraft, with more flights in the summer.
It is fairly busy as a cargo hub, however, with worldwide links from airlines like Emirates SkyCargo, Silk Way, Sky Gates Airlines, and Turkish Airlines Cargo.
Spotting is possible from the viewing area next to the passenger terminal.
Another interesting reason to visit Maastricht is for aircraft which may be being maintained, painted or stored. You’ll often find these outside the various hangars on both sides of the main runway. Follow Vliegveldweg south from the terminal and turn left onto Neuwe Vliekerweg which runs alongside the runway and leads to an area where airliners are often stored. Further north the road turns into Europlaan. Turn left onto Luxemburglaan and park. More stored airliners should be visible through the fence, and you can walk to find better views.
Rotterdam The Hague Airport
RTM | EHRD
Rotterdam is easily reached by car from Amsterdam (about 30-40 minutes’ drive). It is a fairly busy regional and leisure airport, with Transavia dominating flights.
There are quite a number of based general aviation aircraft which park around the hangars off to the right when looking from the terminal.
There’s a viewing area inside the terminal which offers views over the main ramp and runway through glass.
A short walk past the car parks along Fairoaksbaan should reveal any aircraft parked behind the hangars.
WOE | EHWO
This is an air base a short distance from the Belgian border and city of Antwerp. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive there from Amsterdam.
Although most movements are made up by the Royal Netherlands Air Force, there is a civilian maintenance company based here which works on airliners. Often they come from around the world to be serviced, giving a good possibility of seeing something exotic. Some aircraft stay here for a long time, and others are even scrapped.
Given the military presence you should take care when looking and photographing through the fence.
Make your way to the car park next to the Fokker Services gate. From here you can walk along a path which winds around the edge of the maintenance area. An alternative location a little further north is along a road/track called Groeneweg. You can see a little more of the Fokker area and anything approaching the runway.
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