Aruba Aviation History

Aruba's first experience with the aviation world was well over 80 years ago. On July 24, 1925 the first Hydro-aircraft "IDOR" landed in the Paardenbaai harbour of Oranjestad.

The former Lt. Governor Mr. H.E.G. Wagemaker of Aruba presented the first plans for the construction of an airport for the island in 1933. The area designated for this project was the area at the south coast named "Dakota" (Wayaca). The landing of the first tri-engine Fokker aircraft "Snip" occurred on December 23, 1934 at Savaneta; and in 1935 Aruba got its first airport Dakota, named after a former aloe plantation.

The first scheduled flight between Aruba and Curacao was performed on January 19, 1935, by KLM's Snip, and in this same year 2,659 passengers were transported between the two islands.
1942 Aruba got its second, much bigger, airport that was inaugurated the 4th of June 1942. Due to World War II however, the airport was used as a US Air Force until the war was over. Yet, in the same year construction started for a new terminal building at the south side of the runway.

The second terminal building was finally inaugurated on March 18th, 1950, which cost a total of 8 Million guilders at the time.

On October 22, 1955 the "Dakota" airport, was renamed after princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. The opening ceremony was presided over by H.R.H. Prince Bernard. Furthermore, during this same year the old terminal building was changed into the airport fire department garage.

On February 27, 1957 the first Turbo-Prop aircraft landed in Aruba. Therefore, in 1959 preparations started for the extension of the runway to accommodate the soon to come "Jet Aircraft" types.
On April 10, 1964 the extension of the runway was finished and it was finally able to receive these Jet Aircrafts. Consequently the first two Jet landings in Aruba were: Jet Clipper "Aruba" of the Pan American Airways and the Henry Dunant of the KLM.

A year later in 1965 the ground breaking for the construction of the third terminal building took place, which was inaugurated on November 8th, 1972.

In 1997 the expansion project for the airport, named Beatrix 2000, began. The first phase of the project was completed and inaugurated on September 1, 1999. The entire time span of this expansion took approximately 3 years
The Queen Beatrix International Airport has been turned into a modern and passenger friendly airport. Renovated and extended about 5 times the size from the one originally finished in 1972.