The project of an international airport between Nantes and Rennes is finally taking off almost 50 years after it was first put forward.
The French government has given the final go ahead to the project of a new airport in Notre Dame des Landes, 30 km north of Nantes, which is set to replace the existing airport of the city, Nantes-Atlantique. The €580 million new airport, called “Grand Ouest” (Greater West) will open by 2012 and will have a capacity to serve up to nine million passengers per year.
Grand Ouest Airport is intended to replace local airport Nantes-Atlantique, which is reaching its full capacity of three million passengers per year and can't be expanded due to its close proximity to the city.
By moving Nantes' airport to Notre Dame des Landes, flight safety will be improved and airplane noise in the southern part of the city will be gone as planes will no longer have to fly over Nantes at low altitude.
The project of an airport at Notre Dame des Landes had been launched in the mid-sixties but little progress was made until the late nineties when it was forecasted that passenger traffic in Nantes-Atlantique would be reaching soon its full capacity.
Grand Ouest poised to develop Brittany's eastern belt
Located 30 km north-west of Nantes and 90 km south of Rennes, Grand Ouest Airport will play a vital economic role bringing new jobs and business to Brittany's eastern region, which boasts the two largest Breton cities.
The new airport will also be conveniently linked by motorway and high-speed train with the west of Brittany and the cities of Lorient (150 km) and Brest (280 km). The catchment area of the airport will benefit as well of the passengers travelling to neighbouring cities in the west of France.
It is expected that Grand Ouest will be connected by regular flights to the major European capitals, allowing many Breton passengers to cut journey time as they will no longer be obliged to fly via Paris. The airport terminal will handle an estimated three million passengers when it opens in 2012 and up to nine million by 2050.
The project gained the support of all the major political parties with the exception of the Greens. The news was also received with mixed feelings in the city of Rennes, where many fear that Grand Ouest will harm business at Rennes' Saint-Jacques Airport.
Nantes, the former capital of Brittany with a metropolitan population of just over 790.000, is the largest breton city and enjoys a friendly rivalry with Rennes. Nantes is currently the capital of the French administrative region “Pays de la Loire” while Rennes is the capital of the Breton administrative region “Région Bretagne”.
Do you want to know more?
Visit Grand Ouest Airport's official website, www.aeroport-grandouest.fr