Nantes Atlantique Airport (IATA: NTE, ICAO: LFRS) (French: Aéroport Nantes Atlantique, formerly known as Aéroport Château Bougon) is an international airport serving Nantes, France. It is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) southwest of the city, in Bouguenais.
The airport is operated by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Nantes. It is currently the largest airport in the west of France, with a maximum capacity of three million passengers a year.
Nantes airport owes its origins to a military airfield, conceived in 1928 on part of the current site. In 1936/7 the Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques de l'Ouest opened an aircraft factory adjacent to the airfield, initially building MB.210 bombers, followed by M.S.406 fighters and LeO 45 bombers. In 1939 the first paved runway was constructed, with a length of 900 m (2,953 ft).
During World War II the airfield was briefly used as a British Royal Air Force base before being captured by German forces. Under occupation the aircraft factory was closed, and the airfield was used by the Luftwaffe as a base to bomb targets in England. As a consequence the airfield was hit by a damaging air raid on July 4 1943, which also destroyed the adjoining aircraft factory.
After the war the airfield was again put into service by the French Air Force. The aircraft factory was rebuilt, and has since built sections of the Vautour fighter and the Caravelle airliner, before becoming part of Airbus. In 1951 the first commercial operations started, with a new terminal built between 1954 and 1960 and runway extensions to cater for larger aircraft.
Nantes airport has a single 'L' shaped passenger terminal, which is divided into four numbered halls. Halls 1 to 3 form the long side of the 'L' and are zones within the same two story building, with baggage claim and check-in facilities on the ground floor, and departure lounges on the upper level. Hall 4 occupies a later single story building at right angles to the earlier building, but connected to it by a lobby.
The airport also has a separate freight terminal, situated to the south of the passenger terminal, which includes 6,000 m (65,000 sq ft) of entrepôt storage. Also situated close to the passenger terminal is the Nantes factory of Airbus, which specialises in the construction of the centre wing box of the Airbus fleet of airliners and in the use of composite materials for creating structural components.
Régional Compagnie Aérienne Européenne, a regional airline, is headquartered on the grounds of Nantes Atlantique Airport.
Airlines and destinations
Nantes Atlantique Airport is located just outside the Nantes 'périphérique', the city's peripheral ring motorway, to which it is linked by a short access road. All the major roads and motorways to and from the city of Nantes intersect the 'périphérique'. Several car parks, both in the open and under cover, are located in the terminal area, with each car park having its own tariff. Car rental companies are situated at the airport, housed in a separate building directly opposite the airport terminal and next to the car rental parking lot.
An express shuttle bus, the 'Navette Tan Air', links the a stop outside the airport terminal to Nantes railway station and the city centre. Journeys are scheduled to correspond to flights, and take 30 minutes. The service forms part of Nantes's Tan public transport network, but charges a higher Tan Air fare than the standard network fare. As an alternative Tan local bus 37 provides a frequent connection from an adjacent bus stop to line 3 of the Tan tram system in Neustrie, and both bus and tram accept standard Tan ticketing with a single ticket being valid for the through journey.
Taxis are available from a taxi rank outside the terminal building. A separate waiting area outside the car rental facility is used by pre-arranged taxis.
Nantes Atlantique is currently the largest airport in the west of France; however it can only handle three million passengers a year and cannot be expanded because it is too close to the city. It is therefore currently planned that it will be replaced by a new Aéroport du Grand Ouest, situated 30 km (19 mi) to the north-west of Nantes in the 'commune' of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. The €580 million project was approved in February 2008, with construction expected to start in 2012 and an opening date in 2015.
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