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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA: AMS, ICAO: EHAM) is the Netherlands' main international airport, located 20 minutes (4.9 NM (9.1 km; 5.6 mi) southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. The airport's official English name, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, places the words in the Dutch order (Luchthaven Schiphol) instead of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The airport used to have the IATA code of SPL, which has fallen into disuse and has been replaced by AMS.
Schiphol is an important European airport, ranking as Europe’s 3rd largest and the world’s 14th largest for cargo tonnage. It also ranks as the world’s 3rd largest by international passenger traffic as well as Europe’s 5th and the world’s 14th busiest by overall passenger volume. Additionally, Schiphol ranks as Europe’s 5th and the world’s 17th busiest airport by number of flights, handling 446,569 traffic movements in 2008, a 1.7% drop on 2007. Schiphol's main competitors as in passenger and cargo throughput with London Heathrow Airport, Frankfurt Airport, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Madrid-Barajas Airport. In 2007, Schiphol handled 47,430,019 passengers in 2008, 0.8% down on 2007, ranking it fifth in Europe behind London, Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid. There are 188 loading slots in the whole airport. About 68% of the passenger flights were to Europe, almost 21% of its passengers travelled on intercontinental flights and 11% to Asia; cargo was mainly headed to Asia (44%) and North America (20%). In the same year, Schiphol handled 1,602,585 tons of cargo in 2008, a 3% downturn on 2007, ranking it third in Europe behind Paris and Frankfurt. In 2005 direct flights were operated to more than 260 destinations in 91 countries. The airport is one out of four airports in the world to have a rating of four stars in Skytrax's grading system.
Schiphol has five main runways, plus one used mainly by general aviation aircraft. The northern end of the Polderbaan, the name of last runway to be constructed, is 7 km north of the control tower, causing lengthy taxi times (up to 20 min) to the terminal. Plans have been made for a seventh runway.
The airport is built as one large terminal, split into three large departure halls, which converge again once airside. The most recent of these was completed in 1994, and expanded in 2007 with a new part, named Terminal 4, although this part is not recognised as a separate building. Plans for further terminal expansion exist, including the construction of a separate new terminal between the Zwanenburgbaan and Polderbaan runways that would end the one-terminal concept.
Because of intense traffic and high landing fees, some low cost carriers decided to move their flights to smaller airports, such as Rotterdam The Hague Airport and Eindhoven Airport. Many low cost carriers (like easyJet or Bmibaby) continue to operate from Schiphol, using the low-cost H-pier.
Schiphol is the home base of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), Arkefly, Martinair, Amsterdam Airlines and Transavia.com, and a hub for Delta Air Lines in cooperation with KLM.
The Schiphol Air traffic control tower, with a height of 101 metres (331 ft), was the tallest in the world when constructed in 1991. Schiphol is geographically one of the world's lowest major commercial airports. The entire airport is below sea level; the lowest point sits at 11 feet (3.4 m) below sea level (or 4.5 feet (1.4 m) below the Dutch Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP)); the runways are around 3 metres (9.8 ft) below NAP.
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