EBACE Convention News

French Airports Seek To Boost Bizav Traffic

 - May 14, 2012, 1:10 PM
The lounge at Nimes Airport

Several French airports have flocked to the EBACE show to promote their facilities and services for business aviation. For instance, while Nîmes Airport may take advantage from the proximity of the Mediterranean coast, Chambéry and Grenoble airports seem to enjoy their location next to the Alps.

Nîmes Airport (Stand 2240), in the south of the country, is exhibiting for the first time. It has large hangars to rent, following the departure of their former tenants, the French Navy. “They are now available to other users, like general aviation,” Jacques Burguière, deputy director of Nîmes Métropole’s economic development (the owner of the airport), told AIN.

The hangars, which range in size from 30,000 to 50,000 sq ft, might be suitable for use by a training organization, for instance, or shared by several aircraft owners. Other potential tenants might include maintenance companies or one setting up an FBO at the airport, which has an 8,000-foot runway.

According to Veolia Transport, the operator of the airport, Nîmes is a cost-effective solution for parking larger business aircraft while their owners spend time on the nearby French Riviera, since its rates are markedly less than those at more prominent Cote d’Azur airports. A VIP lounge and concierge services are available for business aircraft passengers. Nîmes has no dedicated area for crews, but can provide a room for them to prepare the next flight.

Business aviation traffic is said to be very seasonal in the south of France. From May to October, many Swiss and British passengers–among others–fly to Nîmes to enjoy their second homes in the region. Last year, business aviation accounted for a total of 424 aircraft movements.

Meanwhile, Grenoble Isère and Chambéry Savoie airports (Stand 956) are exhibiting here at EBACE for the second year in a row. They are both operated by Vinci Airports.

At Grenoble, a dedicated apron and tow tractor are now available to business aviation. Passengers boarding an aircraft weighing less than 100,000 pounds benefit from expedited security checks. The business aviation terminal has recently been refurbished, providing more space and comfort for both passengers and crews, a spokesperson told AIN.

Chambéry Airport has launched a dedicated website for business aviation users. It is available in French, English and Russian. During the winter–Chambéry’s busiest season–the peak period for business aviation is the Russian New Year in January.

Neighboring exclusive ski resorts lure a lot of those passengers who go though Chambéry’s business aviation terminal. They are driven or flown, by helicopter, for the final leg of their trip to resorts such as Courchevel and Megève. Business travel is reported to be the second reason why Chambéry and Grenoble business aviation passengers travel.

During the 2011-2012 winter season, Grenoble Airport saw an estimated 100-percent increase in business aviation traffic–600 aircraft movements. Chambéry recorded 5 percent growth, at 2,000 movements. High-end jets such as Bombardier Globals, large-cabin Gulfstreams, Boeing BBJs and Airbus ACJs account for an increasing number of the visiting aircraft.