The small regional airport that is fit for a Boeing 747

Niederrhein Airport is a small regional airport near Weeze on the left lower rhine (lower rhine = "niederrhein" in German) area in north-west North Rhine Westphalia.

In its former incarnation it used to be the British Royal Airforce Base RAF Laarbruch which defended the puny Germans and the rest of the world from the communist aggressor by placing a couple of medium range bombers, complete with nuclear weapons on its airfield, ready to unleash hell on the Sowjets. The airfield was built in 1953, and over the years the base developed into small town where 5000 british people lived and worked, complete with pubs, clubs, cinema, schools, footballfield, 2 banks, 2 postoffices, squashcourts, a british supermarket, numerous semi-detached houses and a huge bunker.

In 1991, after the USSR finally conceded defeat against the imperialist pigs the base closed and left the area without its biggest employer and with a ghost town and an airfield. Fortunately the local council, together with the county's government came up with the clever idea to turn this into a regional airport for the considerable population living around the airfield: Duesseldorf, Essen, Arnheim, Venlo, Krefeld, Nijmegen, Eindhoven, Aachen, Maastricht and Duisburg are less than 60 minutes away, giving this airport a good infrastructural position.

Daily services started on 1.5.2003 from a converted hangar, complete with beer garden, but since 1.8.03 the new, purpose build terminalbuilding is open, and flying from there is actually quite pleasant due to the reasonable low hubbub.

At the moment, only Irish "no frills, low bills" airline Ryanair is using the airport to serve its hub at London Stansted three times a day (the cheeky monkeys initially tried to call it Niederrhein "Duesseldorf" on its german ads, but that had to be pulled because people turned up at the real Duesseldorf Airport, just to find the airport they were looking for was 100 km away), but apparently dutch airline Vbird has shown interest and Ryanair will surely expand its services in the near future. Due to its unusually long (2500 meter) runway, it can handle 747's as well as smaller planes, making it ideal for a cargo centre. The only problem is continuous legal wrestling between the airport's holding and the surrounding small communities, who want to curb noise-pollution, but as this is Europe, an amicable solution can always be found.

The interesting question is what will happen to the surrounding ghost town, which really looks like its inhabitants just left yesterday and will be back for tea. An interesting challenge for the local council.

Tip of the hat to the great rp for his input!

Update 4/2004

New Airlines flying from Niederrhein: V Bird, Dutch Bird, Sky, Bexx Air

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