Rennes – Saint-Jacques Airport or Aéroport de Rennes - Saint-Jacques (IATA: RNS, ICAO: LFRN) is an airport about six km southwest of Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine, in the region of Brittany, France.
It is a national and international airport, open to regular and irregular flights, and to both private and passenger plans. The main runway can handle airplanes with up to around 180 passengers.
The main runway can be used by planes with up to around 180 passengers, and it is best fitted for middle-range flights. For cargo transportation services, it is suitable for planes like Boeing 737 and 727, or Ilyushin IL-76. It is equipped with ILS.
The secondary paved runway is suitable for light motorized planes (business and leisure).
Competition and projects
This airport has some local competition with the Dinard Pleurtuit Saint-Malo Airport, on the Channel coast, preferred by low cost companies for passengers.
Due to the raising traffic in the Nantes Atlantique Airport (approaching its saturation), there is now an ongoing regional project to build a second large airport between Rennes and Nantes that will service both cities. This will require building faster and more frequent transit services with both cities and to their existing airports, through the modernization of the existing regional Rennes-Nantes railway link through Redon, and the interconnection with their fast TGV railway stations.
Airlines and destinations
The Rennes airport is the 19th for the total of transported passengers in 2005 :
The Rennes airport is the 9th for the total of transported freight in 2005 :
Before the construction of this airport, Rennes had a small hippodrome which was used as a landing strip in Gayeulles, to the north-east of the city. In 1931 work started on a proper airport to service Rennes, and a plot of 380,000 square metres in Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande to the south-west of the city was acquired and building began. On July 28, 1933 the new airport was officially opened by Pierre Cot.
Seized by the Germans in June 1940 during the Battle of France, Rennes airport was used as a Luftwaffe military airfield during the occupation. Known units assigned (all from Luftlotte 3, Fliegerkorps IV):
JG 53 and KG 27 took part in operations over England during the Battle of Britain (10 July–31 October 1940); KG 26 and KG 77 also engaged in night aerial attacks over England during 1942; JG 11 and SKG 10 were interceptor units primarily engaging Eighth Air Force heavy bomber (B-17; B-24) operations over Occupied Europe. In addition, numerous Luftwaffe Anti-Aircraft FLAK batteries were controlled from Rennes.
Rennes was attacked by Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress bombers on 9 January 1944 (Mission 180), and was overflown on several night leaflet drops during the spring of 1944. The airport was also attacked during the Allied invasion of Normandy during June 1944 on several occasions by B-26 Marauder medium bombers of IX Bomber Command, 323d Bombardment Group. The medium bombers would attack in coordinated raids, usually in the mid to late afternoon, with Eighth Air Force heavy bombers returning from attacking their targets in Germany. The attack was timed to have the maximum effect possible to keep the Luftwaffe interceptors pinned down on the ground and be unable to attack the heavy bombers. Also, the P-47 Thunderbolts of Ninth Air Force would be dispatched to perform fighter sweeps over Rennes after the Marauder raids, then meet up with the heavy bombers and provide fighter escort back to England. As the P-51 Mustang groups of Eighth Air Force began accompanying the heavy bombers all the way to their German targets by mid-1944, it was routine for them to also attack Rennes on their return back to England with a fighter sweep and attack any target of opportunity to be found at the airfield.
It was liberated by Allied ground forces about 7 August 1944 during the Northern France Campaign. Almost immediately, the United States Army Air Force IX Engineering Command 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion cleared the airport of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft. Subsequently, Rennes Airport became a USAAF Ninth Air Force combat airfield, designated as "A-27" about 10 August.
Under American control, the 362d Fighter Group operated P-47 Thunderbolts from the airport from 10 August though 19 September. In addition, the 10th Reconnaissance Group operated various photo-reconnaissance aircraft during August and September, and it became the headquarters of IX Air Defense Command on 25 August. The fighter planes flew support missions during the Allied campaign in Central and Eastern France, patrolling roads in front of the advancing ground forces; strafing German military vehicles and dropping bombs on gun emplacements, anti-aircraft artillery and concentrations of German troops.
The combat units moved out by the end of September and Rennes Airport was used as a supply and maintenance depot for American aircraft for several months, before being returned to French civil control on 30 November 1944. Completely reconstructed after the war, the airport returned to its normal civil use. Some World War II bomb craters can still be seen in grassy areas north of the main runway.
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