History

Prague Letňany Airport is one of the oldest Czech airports. Even though the history of the airport dates back to 1924, the plains in the area Vysočany-Letňany remember the first flights in Prague and the soles of tens of thousands of excited spectators that were watching those magnificent men in their flying machines in 1910 already.

Transport Kašparova letounu Bleriot XI na místo startu_900x513

The foundation of our republic in 1918 started the golden era of aviation in the whole Czechoslovakia and in Prague-directly on this spot, which later became the basis of the biggest aviation region in Central Europe. The convenient location of Vysočany-Letňany plains near the capital city then led to the establishment of three airports. Later they could have been described as military-factory airport complex Letňany, factory airport of the concern Škoda – Avia Čakovice and military-civil international airport Kbely – established in 1918. After six years of continual development the capacity of Kbely was not sufficient for military, factory, testing and also international civil air transport anymore . So in 1924 the airport here in Letňany was established. And in 1937 the civil air transport was transfered from Kbely to the newly built international airport in Prague Ruzyně.

Since 1923 the aircraft factory Letov was being built here, later also today’s Aerospace Research and Test Establishment (VZLU) was transfered to Letňany and at the end of the 30s the ČKD group built here another aircraft factory – Praga. Especially thanks to the success of the airplane Praga E.114 Baby the aircraft department of ČKD became well-established producer of training, sport and later also military aircraft that were famous even outside Czechoslovakia.

After the occupation of the Czech lands in March 1939 German military concerns and Luftwaffe took over the production capacities in this area. In 1940 and 1941 it was decided that the production capacities of all local aircraft factories would be expanded. So this was the second crucial period for development of this aviation triangle. Together with original hangars from the airport in Kbely a complex of new hangars for final assembling and test-flights of newly produced aircraft was built here.

Výroba letadel Arado Ar 96 ve Flugzeugwerke Letov, A. G. Prag-Letnian

Because of the massive aircraft production the whole area of Letňany and Kbely became the target of large devastating bombing of Allied air forces, mainly in spring 1945. Despite this all these hangars are standing at Prague Letňany Airport till now and they comprise a unique complex of buildings that documents the history of our aircraft industry. After WWII the newly reinstated aerospace industry took over all the factories built for occupation production and the manufacturing of adopted aircrafts for the Czechoslovak army and civil aviation continued.

The centrally planned economy, which was implemented after the coup in 1948, dealt a heavy blow to local aerospace production. ČKD was the first one that was ordered to stop its production, also the independent development and production of whole airplanes in the company Letov had to stop, its name was changed to Rudý (Red) Letov after all. The factory Aero was moved to the municipality Vodochody at the beginning of the 50s, one reason for this was also the plan to extend the production of jet planes Mig-15. In the 60s the aircraft production in Avia ended. Sport pilots (Svazarmovci) came to the airport and established Aeroclub Letňany. Aerospace Research and Test Establishment was the only one from the original founders that stayed at the airport, till the 70s it made test-flights of world-wide legendary airplanes L-29 Delfín and L-39 Albatros at the airport.

Drak letounu Aero L-39 Albatros behem lámacích zkoušek ve VZLÚ_900x603

The rapid development of modern technologies connected with aerospace after WWII has determined the heading of our airport in the future and has put it among airports with a limited length of runways that have 860 meters.

In 2007 Prague Letňany Airport was taken over by a British investment company and managed by its Czech subsidiary Sky Invest Technology Prague. This period brought a massive development of the airport. In 2010 the airport operation itself was taken over by the subsidiary company Letiště Praha Letňany s.r.o. again and it started to make up for the neglected investments. New airport traffic control tower emerges, costly renovation of insufficient runways is made, a new camera and entry system is introduced, original fencing is reestablished and the parking area with access gates is completely renovated. Another important investment step was the renovation of the original shooting hangar. Prague Letňany Airport has become an entry gate to Prague for both Czech and foreign visitors.