Alex McWhirter looks back at the launch of Schiphol’s famous single terminal 50 years ago.

Amsterdam’s award-winning airport is renowned for its single terminal. Whereas other major global hubs have two, three, four or even more terminals, Schiphol has coped with one for 50 years.

The advantage for passengers is ease of connectivity. When the new terminal opened on the Schiphol airfield in 1967, it was considered a wonder of the aviation age. So much so that I flew home from Cologne (where I was at the time) via Amsterdam to see it for myself.

What set Schiphol apart was that it was the first European facility specifically designed for transfer passengers and shopping. This continues to suit home airline KLM, as most of its customers travel through, rather than to, Amsterdam. It is backed up with six runways and its own rail station linked to Europe’s high-speed network.

Schiphol is vital for the Netherlands, contributing €30 billion annually to the Dutch economy. It provides 300,000 jobs directly and indirectly, while 64 million passengers used the airport last year.

Over the years, the single terminal has expanded to meet demand, but after half a century it is feeling the pressure. Passengers complain about congestion and distances between gates. A second terminal will soon be necessary.