Toulouse-Blagnac Airport Background
TOULOUSE's first encounter with the world of aviation was in 1913 and 1914 at the "Polygone" air range, where air displays introduced the latest aircraft to the general public.
Shortly afterwards, the "Aéropostale" was set up at Montaudran. The early days of commercial aviation are still recounted by literature and film and at conferences and inaugurations.
Toulouse and the Montaudran area are recognised as being the birthplace of international commercial aviation, due to all the experimentation that took place there - postal, freight and passenger transport, longer distance flights and eventually transatlantic flights.
The first Latécoère postal link between Toulouse and Barcelona was introduced on 1 September 1919 in Montaudran.
This link attracted two manufacturers: Latécoère (1917) and Dewoitine (1920).
The CCIT (Toulouse Chamber of Commerce and Industry) funded the first aircraft stop-off point in Francazal and did everything in their power to help develop civilian aviation. Toulouse airport was created, partly as an army base and partly as a civilian airport.
The army took over the Francazal site in 1912 and during the inter-war years it was used as a landing base for civil aircraft from the French/Moroccan/South American line as well as for military aircraft.
In 1928 , Victor Laurent-Eynac, Secretary of State for Air, asked the Chamber of Commerce to take part in setting up air stations. The law of 20 June 1933 authorised the CCI to set up and manage the airports. From then on, the CCIT was willing to co-finance a combined airport at Francazal with the intention of managing the commercial sector.
Finally, in 1938, it was more or less agreed that Montaudran would be used as a factory aerodrome and Francazal as an air force base. The Secretary of State for Air kept the Blagnac site apart for use as a civilian and industrial airport.
At that point in time, very few towns were as ambitious as Toulouse and so there was very little competition. "Toulouse - the birthplace of aviation", "Clément Ader's Toulouse", "Toulouse - site of the Aeropostale" - the city was destined for the air industry.
And then suddenly…. everything took off!
1939 : A smart group of factories with modern buildings and hangars was rapidly constructed at the Blagnac site using advanced architecture and reinforced concrete to house the army repair workshop (later to become the AIA - French Air Force Workshop). A civilian hanger was also constructed. This was the very first building to be constructed from the aerodrome's layout plans which outlined all the buildings necessary for a civilian airport.
Two 800m x 40m runways were built both on airport land and on land around the towns of Toulouse, Blagnac and Colomiers. These runways were made of concrete and 5m x 5m slabs (thickness: 0.19 metres.
Work began on the taxiways.
The first Dewoitine hangers were quickly constructed in the south part of the site (Toulouse/St-Martin-du-Touch). When war broke out, there was much greater demand and construction work gathered speed.
1940 : Activities continued in the AIA on the eastern side of the airport and the St-Martin-du-Touch factories in the south (with Dewoitine becoming S.N.C.A.M. - the National Society for Aeronautic Construction in the Mediterranean area). These factories used the aerodrome's facilities. (HIS011)
1942: German occupation. Heinkel was set up in the AIA and Junker in the Saint-Martin area. The airport was expanded and a V1 and V2 manufacturing plant and dive-bombing school took over neighbouring farms.
1943 : The AIA and St-Martin-du-Touch factories were partly destroyed during the ally air raids.
1944 : The S.N.C.A.S.E. - the National Society for Aeronautic Construction in the South-East (formerly the "S.N.C.A.M." - closed in 1942) was set up after the Liberation, in the bombed out and surviving buildings in the Saint-Martin area and in the remains of the AIA building.
British troops living in barracks used the facilities at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.
Under the orders of Squadron Leader Dor, a group of bombers use the Junkers and bombs abandoned by the Germans to defend Royan using the Toulouse-Blagnac site as a base.
1945 : Civil aviation left Francazal to set up in the temporary wooden barracks at Toulouse-Blagnac. The terminal itself was set up and organised under equally precarious conditions. That year, 9,000 passengers passed through the airport. From that point on, the airport was continually improved and new buildings were added. (brq_1952)
"The garret-like control-tower looms above the technical building. Aerials are attached to the roof and a pylon to separate transmission and reception signals. Beacon lights mark the entrance to a taxiway. Tradition has it that if an aircraft manages to knock down one of these lights when negotiating the taxiway, the fine must be paid at the bar - fishtailing can sometimes be costly."
1947, 1948, 1949 : Runway "15-33" was extended in length to 2,500m and in width to 60m and was equipped with A.M.V.A., night lighting, an approach line and ILS (the last three items were added in 1953 and 1954). (map)
1950 : Thanks to its facilities and commercial operations the CCIT gained authorisation to take over some of the airport's buildings for a period of 25 years.
1953 (June 11) : The CCIT built the first terminal building under Gabriel Barlangue's supervision, and with the financial support of the City of Toulouse and the Departmental Council.
The airport opened as a controlled public airport for public air traffic, in accordance with the order of 30 March 1953. (his051) (his054)
That year 27,000 passengers passed through the airport but it could already accommodate a total of 400,000 passengers. (B1_1953)
1954 : A taxiway for large aircraft was built between the St-Martin-du-Touch area and runway no. 1.
Meanwhile, the St-Martin-du-Touch factories were improved (Languedoc and Armagnac buildings) and modernised again, in 1958 and 1959 by Sud-Aviation to make room for the construction of the Caravelle building. The industrial site in the east of the site continued to house the Sud-Aviation workshops and the Potez-Fouga and Bréguet hangar/workshops and "flight test centre" buildings were added. (Armagnac)
1956 : Air France organised a daily return service to Paris, which, after various interruptions, was taken over by Air Inter.
1959 : Bréguet left the buildings in the former AIA to set up in the Colomiers area, in the south east corner of the aerodrome.
1960 : The CCIT was awarded the airport's customer service franchise.
The control tower and General Services technical block were constructed. (B1_1953)
1961 : The freight terminal was built.
1962-1963 : The terminal was extended. (B1_1953)
Up until 1962, passenger traffic was mostly international, with the majority of passengers from North African countries. In 1962, the return of repatriated settlers from Algeria was reflected by a temporary increase - followed by a sharp fall - in the number of passengers. (The airport played a major role in welcoming these passengers.)
1963-1964 : The larger runway was extended to 3,000m and the northern taxiway was built. (HIS003) (HIS004) (B1_003)
1964 : The radar building was set up and work started on lighting alterations.
1965 : The original 2,500 metres of runway no. 1. were reinforced
The Meteorology Observatory Station was built at the end of the runway.
1968 : A second runway was commissioned to meet Concorde's requirements (3,500m) (B1_045)
Over the decades all the different generations of modern aviation - Caravelle, Concorde, Airbus (from A300 to A340) - have taken off from Blagnac's constantly modernised runways.
1977 : A million passengers: Blagnac 1 was saturated. (B2_travaux)
April 1978 : Under Claude Duffour's leadership, the CCIT opened a new terminal - Blagnac 2, based 800m away from Blagnac 1. The Transport Minister, Joël le Theule, attended the inauguration. (B2_1978)
1990 : Three million passengers.
1993 : Hall 1, Blagnac 2 became saturated and expansion work was carried out. The airport inaugurated the new Hall 2 (25,000m2). (B2_hall1) (Baudis) (Hall2_1993)
1993 (June 12) : A new Control Tower was opened. (TOUR1000)
1997: The number of international passengers reached one million.
1999 : The number of passengers passed the 5-million mark.
2001 : P3, a covered and patrolled car park (2,500 spaces), was opened.
2003 : The "Passerelle" office building was opened (ATB_090).
2004 : The "Hall A" was opened in Jun.
2007 (March 23) : The airport is managed by a private company, Aeroport Toulouse-Blagnac, after more than 50 years under the management of
Toulouse Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
2007 : Toulouse-Blagnac exceeded the six million passenger a year mark in 2007
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