Munich Airport is about to celebrate its 25th birthday. But its historical roots go back much further. The starting gun for the construction project on the "Erding North" site was the decision by the Bavarian state government, announced in August 1969, to build the new airport on that parcel of land, 29 kilometers north of the city. This was the culmination of a long search for a suitable location in which 20 potential options in and around Munich were explored. With the planning permission ruling in July 1979, the District Government of Upper Bavaria granted official approval for the construction of a new airport – 10 years after the final decision on the site. However, just months after the earth movers broke ground in November 1980, everything again ground to a halt in April 1981. Under a ruling from the Bavarian Administrative Court, the work was ordered to stop. It was not until four years later, in March 1985, that crews were able to resume construction based on a reduced design imposed in a court ruling.
The official opening of the new airport took place on May 11 1992 – six days ahead of the launch of full flight operations – with 2,000 invited guests in attendance in the airport's largest maintenance hangar. This was followed on Saturday, May 16 with the main moving operation from the old Riem location to the new airport. This huge undertaking, which received extensive coverage in international media, involved around 5,000 people and 700 trucks. The smooth execution of this feat – with no delays in the launch of operations or in the flight schedule, either in the evening at the old Riem location or the next morning at the brand-new airport near Erding – earned plaudits in Germany and abroad. It also earned FMG, the airport operating company, a global reputation as an expert in airport relocations that it has since converted into consulting contracts all over the world.
The new airport's rapid rise to take its place among the leading hubs in Europe started in the mid-1990s when Lufthansa stationed its first two widebody jets in Munich. Willi Hermsen, then the CEO of Munich Airport, and his Lufthansa counterpart Jürgen Weber were quick to see that a functional transformation into a major European hub would open up enormous opportunities. The two companies pooled their resources as strategic growth partners and in 1998 signed an agreement on the joint construction, financing and operation of Munich Airport's Terminal 2 – the first such cooperative arrangement between an airport and an airline anywhere in the world.