At the beginning of aviation, a turfed airfield near the racecourse at the mouth of the Var was used, notably by the airman of Nice Maïcon, but except for the aviation of tourism bound to the rich residents of the Riviera, nothing really developed before the end of the Second World war: a real airfield would have been too close to the border and, before the war, fighter squadrons remained based in Le Cannet-des-Maures. At the end of 1944, a runway allowing the heavy bombers to land was built by the American Engineers. These basic installations were used as soon as 1946 to develop regular airlines and, resuming projects which dated from 1937 and 1943, the progressive development of more important installations resulted in 1957 in the opening of the first real airport. The installations of the airport and their exploitations were granted in 1956 to the Chamber of commerce and industry of Alpes-Maritimes for a duration of 50 years. Since, the increase in the number of European lines at the beginning of 1960's, extra-European later, officially make of Nice the second airport in France, For about forty years, the development of the airport, very close to the city, bound to the fast urbanization of the region (notably the development of second homes) contributed to modify the look of the French Riviera and also the County of Nice: many residents are consumers of national connections for professional or tourist reasons (in 1958: 660 000 passengers, in 1964: 1 million, in 1983: 4 millions, in 1999: more than 8 and a half millions). This airport also plays an important economic role in the region because of more than 4 000 permanent employees and the presence of numerous subcontracting companies . To answer increasing needs, tracks were built on a space gained on the sea by the big works of the years 1974-79 and after several extensions of the first air terminal, a second air terminal was put in service in 1987 for the national flights( while the terminal 1 dedicated to the international traffic was completely reshaped in 1990). At present an extension of the air terminal 2 is in progress as well as the reorganization of the car park spaces .

Alain RUGGIERO

 

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