Paris’ Le Bourget Airport (Booth No. 547) has pressed ahead with its long-term development plan despite the economic climate and is focusing on improving access to the site. The first phase of the Le Bourget redevelopment plan, which is to run through to 2023, was completed last year with only a few minor aspects of the work deferred.
Managing director Michel de Ronne told AIN that while local operators and FBOs have suffered from reduced activity, none has gone out of business and the bleak economy did not deter the arrival of newcomers. For example, Dubai-based JetEx Flight Support opened its new FBO at the airport (see article below), and Comlux Aviation is building a terminal for its widebody charter and management fleet, which it expects to be operational in early 2012.
In addition, Jetservice maintenance subsidiary Uniair has moved into half of the 100,107-sq-ft Jacqueline Auriol maintenance hangar vacated by Dassault Aviation when it closed its aircraft sales showroom in January. The other half of the completely refurbished hangar (named in honor of France’s first female test pilot) is occupied by operator Unijet, which has been based at Le Bourget for 40 years and plans to open a new facility in mid-2011.
According to de Ronne, traffic at the business aviation gateway airport fell 11 percent to 57,900 movements in 2009 compared with 64,500 a year earlier and 66,800 in 2007. Before the financial crisis took the steam out of business aviation’s boom, annual growth at Le Bourget had been expected to continue at rates of up to 4 percent.
However, de Ronne also said there have been some signs of recovery in recent months. “In spite of the crisis, strikes and a particularly harsh winter, airport movements have increased since October,” he said, predicting that annual growth will resume to between 1.5 and 3.5 percent, depending on the depth and length of the crisis.
Meanwhile, big changes are expected to result from the French government’s controversial development project for the Greater Paris area. The business airport itself, the town of Le Bourget and four neighboring communities are targeted as one of the main urban development areas that will benefit from creation of an 80-mile automatic rapid transit system. The system will include a link between Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport and the La Defense business district via Le Bourget. If work on the project starts as planned in 2012, this part of the line would open in the 2016-18 time frame, with the Roissy-Le Bourget section operational in 2014.
Also included in the Le Bourget redevelopment plan is the construction, by an unidentified operator, of a VIP club at the northeast of the airport for use by select aircraft owners. The club is expected to open in June.
On April 19, EBAA France celebrated the 50th anniversary of business aviation at Le Bourget with a reception in the Dassault Falcon Service facility. The event was attended by French transport minister Dominique Bussereau.