Air Alpes

Air Alpes

Infobox Airline
airline = Air Alpes

image_size =
callsign = AIRALPES
founded = 1961
commenced =
ceased = 1981
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secondary_hubs =
focus_cities =
frequent_flyer =
lounge =
alliance =
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fleet_size =
destinations =
parent =
company_slogan =
headquarters =
key_people = Michel Ziegler (founder)
website =

Air Alpes was an French airline company, established in 1961 by Mr Michel Ziegler and its story began in the French Alpes.

Creation of Air Alpes

It is in 1961 that Mr. Michel Ziegler, fascinated by aviation and mountain climbing and as well, inspired by the Swiss Hermann Geiger's experience, started the Airline company "Air Alpes".

He was backed up by Henri Ziegler and Mr Sylvain Floirat. These two became the two first shareholders, followed later on, by Joseph Szydlowski, himself an important aeronautical manufacturer.From the start, Mr Michel Ziegler called at his side Mr Robert Merloz, a Savoyard school friend. Mr Robert Merloz helped Mr Michel Ziegler during the first stages of the company.Further on, Mr Robert Merloz went to pursue a brilliant career as an Air France, pilot.The registered office was established in Chambery.During the building of the Chalet/ Air Terminal the registered office was transferred to Courchevel Altiport,and will become a registered office in Europe with the highest altitude (2.016m Altitude).

In reality, mountain aviation has started on July 30, 1921 when Francois Durafour landed on the "Dôme du Gouter", altitude 4.330m, on board a Caudron G.3 (The Caudron's brothers) During the mid 50's the Swiss pilot, Hermann Geiger, would improve flying techniques.From Sion, on board his Piper, he will carry out many rescues and supply missions in the Alpes Valaisannes.

Another french pilot, Henri Giraud (aviateur), also a student of Geiger had begun to open the way to this mountain aviation, he will visit famous for its landing at Mont Aiguille, but especially on June 23, 1960 by asking his Piper PA-18.A Super Cub F-BAYP the summit of Mont Blanc in 4807 metres altitude.

It is with him that Mr Michel Ziegler and Mr Robert Merloz will learn and perfect the art of mountain flying and landing techniques on snow.

It all started with a Piper Aircraft PA-18, Super Cub, registration F-BKBP (s/n 18-5094). This activity was made up primarily of "General Aviation" and "Land Supplies" to High Mountains refuges and a flying school.

A comparative study between the Dornier Do 27 and the Pilatus Aircraft "Porter" will see the leasing of a Pilatus PC-6 equipped with a piston engine Lycoming 340CV, registration HB-FAZ.Unfortunately, on September 2, 1961, it will be destroyed during a training flight at the "Col du Dome" in the Mont Blanc mountains (Crew safe and sound).During 2001, the restaurant/chalet Manager, situated at the base of the "Glacier des Bossons" , found parts of the aforementioned plane . It took 40 years for the Pilatus to reach the foot of the glacier.

Creation of the High Altitude Altiport, at Courchevel, is thanks to the support of the Town Council and the Station Manager, Gilles de la Rocque. (Runway with short landing strips, in high altitude, covered in snow in winter. The aircraft will be ski-equipped for landing).

The runway is 300m long x 30m wide with a medium slope of 15 degrees. Construction of a chalet used either for offices or mini-air-terminal and a hangar.

The Paul-Emile Victor's old caterpillar shuttle was bought to transport the passengers between the ski resorts and the Altiport.

Transported Passengers: 2.500

Flying hours: 30

Staff: 4 (2 Pilots/1 Secretary/1Engineer)

The Pilatus years

1962: Acquisition from Pilatus Aircraft Company of the first Pilatus PC-6 (PC-6/A-H2 Porter F-BJSZ s/n 525), equipped with a Turbomeca engine Aztazou. This Aircraft could carry 7 passengers plus pilot.This purchase was possible thanks to Mr Joseph Szydlowski, founder of the Turbomeca Company (Manufacturer of engines for planes and helicopters). Mr Szydlowski provided the engine for this aircraft free of charge. Later on, he became an Air Alpes' shareholder.A few years later, on November 15th 1968, an aircraft of this type would beat the International Altitude record and reach the altitude of 13.485m (The Pilot Bernard Ziegler who will eventually become Director of Department " Airbus Test Flights". It will take 4 years for this record to be beaten.

The works undertaken the previous summer at the Meribel station for the creation of a new Altiport ends In January, on a summarily graded runway (400m x 15m) with a medium slope of 6%), the Piper F-BKBP and the Pilatus F-BJSZ will land for the first time at Meribel.That year we will see the building of a Chalet/Air-Terminal and a hangar.It is during its inauguration that Mr Joseph Szydlowski, Turbomeca CEO and one of the Air Alpes' first shareholders, invented the word "Altiport". This term would be a new dictionary entry 10 years later.

That year the S.F.A Pilots ( Aeronautical Training Service), Mr Marcel Collot and Jean Delparte, both trained by Mr Hermann Geiger, will undertake the task of writing the first basis of the regulation manual, establishing, the conditions under which the aircraft can take off on various surfaces other than the flat surface of small airports or aerodromes and to classify the different types: altiports, airstrips and glaciers.Air Alpes will work very closely to the development of this regulation.Leasing of a Piper PA-18 Super Cub F-BNAO (s/n 188236) to replace the slightly damaged F-BKBP.Opening of the first winter routes. Lyon/Courchevel/Meribel and Geneva/Courchevel/Meribel (Flights ALP 121 and 122).

Inter stations flights are proposed to passengers, as well as, glacier skiing drop-offs. This activity will be very important during the first years of Air Alpes' operation These landings could only be realized with a high altitude guide. A very close cooperation will be established between the ski-instructors and guides from the various ski-resorts.

From the Haute-Savoie, Savoie and Isere Altiports, the main glaciers of the "Mont Blanc", the "Tarentaise", the "Vanoise" or the "Oisans" were now accessible. For each flight only a maximum of 6 persons and 1 guide could be accommodated.

This activity will end in 1979 after a ban of glaciers landings.

A contract is signed with ORTF. It makes provisions for the supply of a relay platform to broadcast life images of the "Tour de France", Paris-Roubaix as well as others prestigious cyclist events.The first few years of these flights were made with a Pilatus PC-6, then with a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, F-BOOH. This contract will end in 1973. For the broadcasting of these events a special equipment is installed on board of the aircraft.

Scenic flights of the Alps and especially the "Tour du Mont Blanc" will, for many years, attract customers charmed by the discovered landscapes.

Transported Passengers: 3.800

Flying hours: 500

Staff: 5 including 1 engineer

1963: A second Pilatus PC-6/A-H2 F-BQKY (s/n 549) joints the fleet, creation of La Plagne Altiport (300m x 25m medium slope of 14%) and first domestic seasonal routes in Corsica.

Commercial agreement with Gyrafrance (Helicopter Company).Air Alpes develop its General Aviation (air advertising, parachuting, maiden flight).

Transported Passengers: 5.200

Flying Hours: 810

Staff: 7

1964: Megeve Altiport's inauguration on December 20, 1964.In November, leasing of a Beechcraft Sferma "Marquis" F-BLLR, twin-engines, 6 seater and equipped of 2 engines Turbomeca "Astazou" for flights to Lyon Bron Airport.

Transported Passengers: 5.000

Flying hours: 821

Staff: 6

1965: In this year, the Geneva/Courchevel winter route offers connecting flights to "Val d'Isere" (250m x 25m medium slope 18%) and "La Plagne" Altiports

Transported Passengers: 3.960

Flying Hours: 797

Staff: 5

1966 Air Alpes is in the market for an aircraft of greater capacity with STOL performances. Of the Short Skyvan and De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, it is the De Havilland DHC that seems the more appropriate for its activity in a mountainous region. It is a twin-engine aircraft of 19 seats plus 2 pilots crew, equipped with a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-20 engines.

In July, this aircraft (CF-UCD) will be presented to the staff of Megeve and Courchevel Altiports.

Air Alpes will offer training of high altitude flying.thumb">

Pilatus Landing at Val d'Isere Solaise Altiport

Construction of a new Chalet/Air Terminal at Courchevel, fitted with a Bar/Restaurant.

In the "Pilot Journal", Air Alpes enters the comic industry with the adventures of Tanguy and Laverdure's."Special Mission" designed by Albert Uderzo and Jije from Jean-Michel Charlier's scenes appeared in the editions 363 to 393, then in an album in 1968, and then in a T.V. series "Les Chevaliers du Ciel" - (Third series - episode 8)

Transported Passengers : 6.430

Flying Hours: 1.043


1967 The Alpe d'Huez council asks Air Alpes to be in charge for the planning and following up of the Altiport construction.The Air-Terminal, that will be built there, is the Courchevel Chalet/Air-Terminal. It will be moved and placed on a hard base surface by a helicopter. This helicopter was borrowed from
Aerospatiale. (Runway 430m x 25m with a slope of 11%).

The same year, the Alpe d'Huez, Avoriaz, Tignes ski-resorts will, also, be used during the winter season.

The Summer program in Corsica: domestic routes: Ajaccio/Propriano/Calvi.

Creation of a new Altiport in the Alpes: "Les Arcs" (400m x 25 medium slope of 14%).

A third Pilatus PC-6 is added to the fleet: registration: F-BOJJ (s/n 513), equipped with a piston engine. It will be modified a few years later as a PC-6/A-H2, thanks to the installation of a Turbomeca "Aztazou" engine.

In June, the experimentation of the system TALAR, (Tactical Approach Landing and Radar), at Chambery. A Pilatus is specially equipped with this system for the occasion.

Air Alpes orders a DHC-6 Twin Otter 100 serie, it should be delivered in October.

Transported Passengers: 10.590

Flying hours : 1.725

Staff: 17

The Regional Company

1968 Several provincial towns of average density wished to be connected directly to Paris by air.The local communities will play an important role in the financing of these new routes.Air Alpes will be one of the precursor along with Rousseau Aviation,
TAT (Touraine Air Transport) Air Paris or Europe Aero Service (EAS - Europe Air Services).Further to this period, the Regional Air Transport in France, we will see almost 50 Air Regional airlines, roughly flying 100 regular or seasonal routes, direct or indirect. These airlines will carry more than 500,000 passengers.

The delivery of the DHC-6- 100 serie Twin Otter (07 Dec.1967) registration F-BOOH (s/n 72) allows the opening of the
Chambery/Grenoble/Nice/Ajaccio route.In winter this ski- equipped aircraft will be operating from The
Courchevel Altiport.

In 1968 that Air Alpes will open its offices on the Chambery/Aix les Bains airport (now aéroport de Chambéry - Savoie).The following services will be established and provided: Sales, Bookings/Reservations, Public Relations, Flight Crew grounds Services,.Flight Operations, Passengers check-in/out will all be together in the Chambery/Aix-les-Bains Air-Terminal.

A building will be built to receive the Board of Directors, The Technical Management and The Accountant and Administrative services

A hangar of 1,600m2 and a large parking facility allow the maintenance of all company aircraft.

Transported Passengers: 16.480

Flying hours: 2.573

Staff: 28

1969 From the two Beechcraft Model 99 ordered, the first arrived in Autumn.The aircraft is a twin-engine, 15 seaters plus 2 flying crews members. It is equipped with 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-A20 engines.

The fleet comprises:4 Pilatus PC-6, with the arrival of the PC-6/A.H2 F-BRPJ (s/n 552)1 DHC-6 Twin Otter series 100 F-BOOH1 Beechcraft B99 F-BRUF (s/n U-121)1 Morane Saulnier MS885 " Super Rallye" F-BKES (s/n 60).It is the aircraft that will last the longest in the company's fleet.This aircraft was used to transport staff: pilots, engineers etc...

That summer, starting of the new Toulon/Ajaccio routes and continuation of the local flights in Corsica.

On October 1st, starting of Chambery/Paris routes in Beechcraft B99 (Paris - Le Bourget Airport) including 5 daily flights from Monday till Friday.

During the winter season, the following routes will be used Geneva/Courchevel, Lyon/Courchevel, Grenoble/l'Alpe d'Huez and
Nice/Courchevel and week end, as well as the inter-stations connections.

Socata shows her MS 894C "Rallye Minerva" (aircraft with ski-equipped, traditional landing gear).

Transported Passengers: 26.296

Flying hours: 3.263

Staff: 35 including 14 pilots, 5 engineers

1970 This year will see a rapid development of the company. Unfortunately on January 15th, the Beech 99 F-BRUF will land just ahead of the Airport Chambery- Aix-les-Bains landing strip. All passengers and crews were safe and sound but the aircraft will be destroyed.Following this accident, the Chambery-Aix-les-Bains airport (Chambéry Airport) will be equipped with a ILS (Instrument Landing System) to allow the security and reliability of the flights.This has been previously requested by Air Alpes for a long time.The aircraft will be moved by a Aérospatiale Super Frelon helicopter provided by Sud Aviation (Aerospatiale) to the company hangar.To replace it, the B-99, the F-BRUN (s/n U11) is purchased and then a few months later the B99 F-BRUX (s/n U122) will joint the fleet.Air Alpes calls upon ATA (Air Tourism Alpin) a Swiss Company for the temporary leasing of a Volpar Hamilton Turboliner, registration HB-GEG

Under Mr Ziegler's initiation, the establishement of ATAR (Regional Air Transport Association).It is a Professional Transport Union which comprises the following Regional Air Transport Airlines: Air Alpes, Air Alsace, Air Aquitaine, Air Languedoc, Pyrenair, Air Rouergue, Air Antilles, Air Martinique and Guyane Air TransportStarting of the Chambery/Grenoble/Nice routes in B99.

During the Summer, it is the Chambery/Grenoble/Nice/Ajaccio routes which will be flown in DHC-6 Twin Otter.

Air Alpes celebrates the first birthday of the Chambery/Aix-les-Bains route (10,000 passengers transported).

For the winter season, starting of the Grenoble/Alpe d'Huez route in Pilatus PC6.

The DHC-6 Twin Otter is damaged during a training flight at the Courchevel Altiport.The use of a ski-equipped Twin Otter was a very delicate and costly operation (16 passengers instead of 19, and a certain lateral instability of the plane at take off).This incident will spur the Courchevel Council to plane snow removal at the Altiport.During the overhaul repair of the aircraft A Twin Otter D-DIHA of General Air will be leased.

In 1970, two shorts films "Vol en montagne" and "Dans le Ciel des Alpes" by film maker Jean-Jacques Languepin were shown in movie theatres before the start of the feature presentation. These short films will allow people to learn about Air Alpes' activities.

"Charter" services begins.

Transported Passengers: 35.796

Flying hours: 4.847

Staff: 17 pilots, 15 engineers, 23 sales and administrative

The 10th Years of Air Alpes

1971 For this event, a ceremony is planned at Courchevel Altiport. With an unstable weather and in presence of Monsieur Maurice Herzog (Sports Minister),Monsieur Joseph Fontanet, (President du Conseil General de Savoie), the ceremony will occurred

For this occasion, the Pilatus PC-6 will be baptized (the station's name is painted on the engine cowl):

F-BJSZ : Courchevel

F-BKQY : Méribel

F-BOJJ : Val d'Isère

F-BRPJ : Alpe d'Huez

A safety barrier, specially adapted for altiports, has been built at Courchevel for tests.

Thanks to the ACMG (Association Climatique de Moyenne Garonne), the anti-hail activity which has started in 1970 at Agen, is going to be developed.A contract is signed with the Beaujolais Wine Region.Pulverizing some urea or silver iodide was required, as close as possible to a cumulonimbus, depending on the temperature. This was done with the help of a Pilatus, which was modified for the situation by installing two tubes in the cabin or of a ramp under the wings.Later on, some cartridges of silver iodide were fired from the plane to reach the heart of the cumulonimbus. This operation allowed the transformation of hail into rain.. Further contracts will be signed in 1972 and 1973 with the wine regions of Bourgogne, Cotes du Rhone and in 1972 with Savoie and Champagne (wine region).

In May, the DHC-6, F-BOOH, rejoins the fleet after been overhauled and modified as a Series 200.(nose of the fuselage lengthened and cabin more spacious). It will no longer be ski-equipped as the Courchevel Altiport now conducts snow removal.

Now, this Altiport is equipped with Control Tower, a large hangar, a petrol and kerosene Jet A1 refueling station as well as a fire-engine.These improvements will allow more significant movements of this platform for private flights.

Arrival of two Beechcraft B99, the F-BSUJ (s/n U62) and the F-BSUK (s/n U21) as well as the DHC-6 Twin Otter serie 200 F-BSUK (s/n 199).Opening of Chambery/Grenoble/Marseille, Roanne/Paris le Bourget, Chambery/Grenoble/St Etienne/Toulouse routes and the seasonal
Toulon/Bastia routes.

The Grenoble - Saint Geoirs Airport (now Grenoble-Isère Airport) becomes a connecting platform for Air Alpes' flights to the South and South -West regions.

In April a Yakovlev Yak-40 from Aertirrena, registration I-AKA and then later the CCP-87791 from Aviaexport will be presented to the Company.They will be no following up of this presentation.

At the beginning of autumn, the Breguet 941, four engined plane, STOL (Short take- offs and landings) will be on a test run at various altiports. It will land at Megeve.
Meribel, l'Alpe d'Huez' Altiports.

This aircraft has been displayed at the Bourget Show ( Salon International de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace de Paris-Le Bourget Paris Air Show), with the Air Alpes' logos. The goal of this display was to show what could be done by the Mountain Air Transport with this type of appropriate aircraft with significant capacity and with a concern for a regular schedule.

For the winter program, opening of direct flight Paris/Courchevel in DHC-6 Twin Otter (one flight with departure from Orly Airport and one flight with departure from Le Bourget Airport) as well as
Nice/Grenoble/l'Alpe d'Huez/Geneva/Courchevel and Roanne/Lyon/Courchevel.

The Pilatus assumes the connecting flights to others winter resorts.

An important contract is signed with the Nepalese Airlines Company " Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation" (now Nepal Airlines). Several crews members will receive instruction and training in high altitude flying and landing at Altiports. This training will last 5 months. The two DHC-6, Twin Otter, registration 9N-ABA, 9N-ABB and the two Pilatus PC-6: 9N-ABC and 9N-AAZ will be ferried with an Air Alpes and RNAC's crews to Nepal.

They left Chambery on July 15th via Bastia, Athens, Beirut, Damascus,
Bahrein, Karachi and New Delhi to arrive in Kathmandu on July 20th.A technical assistance, for a period of two months, by Air Alpes' engineers will complete this training.

A study is undertaken for the Meribel Altiport's extension and fittings. Project for a 700 metre tarred runway, with snow removal provided during the winter season and equipped with an ILS (Instrument Landing System).This study will fall through.

Passengers carried: 55.000

Flying Hours: 9.800

Staff: 102

The developing years

1972 Opening of the route Dole/Paris in Twin Otter DHC-6 at the beginning and then later on by a B-99 (Chambery/Dole/Paris Monday morning and return Friday Evening)

Air Alpes purchases from PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) 5 DHC-6, Twin Otter series 300. Their registrations numbers will be F-BTOO (s/n 291), F-BTOQ (s/n 292), F-BTOR (s/n 298), F-BTOS (s/n 299), F-BTOT (s/n 300).

They will be ferried from Pakistan by the crews members of the company. The flights will start from Karachi, via Pasni, Dubai, Baghdad,
Damascus, Nicosia, Athens, Brindisi and Nice.

Three new Pilatus PC-6 will join the fleet: F-BTCE (s/n 573), F-BTCG (s/n 551) and F-BTCH (s/n 531) as well as four Beechcraft B-99: F-BSTO (s/n U87)F-BTDV (s/n U92), F-BTMJ (s/n U-129) and F-BTMK (s/n U130), the last two being B-99A models are equipped with more powerful engines.

Creation by Aersud (Martino Aichner well-known Italian pilot of the Second World War) and Air Alpes of the Italian company AVI ALPI, established in Trento(Italy) to use Air Transport in Northern Italy particularly to Cortina d'Ampezzo. (Fleet: Piper Aircraft and Pilatus Aircraft PC-6). Air Alpes owns 30% of this company.

During the summer season, opening of the routes Toulon/Ajaccio, Toulon/Bastia, Vichy/St Etienne/Toulon.

For the winter season, a Pilatus PC-6 is put in service in the Southern Alpes ensuring the connections from the Gap to St Crepin and Serre Chevalier.

From Chambery, another Pilatus ensures connections to Val d'Isere and l'Alpe d'Huez.

The Twin Otters ensure the flights from Paris or Geneva to Courchevel.In November, under Air France's flag, the routes Marseille/Milan and Marseille/Geneva begin in DHC-6 Twin Otter, then in Corvette.

Air Alpes entered into the Air France reservation system ALPHA 3.Creation of the GIECAR (Groupement d'Interet Economique des Compagnies Aeriennes Regionales). This group will be called later on "Trans Air Regions"

A lot of hopes are "created" with the arrival on the market of a twin jet aircraft from Dassault Aviation, the Mystere 30 with a capacity of 30/40 seats.This program will be scrapped in 1975.

Transported Passengers: 85.678

Flying hours: 15.137

Staff: 143 ( 38 Technical Management, 38 pilots, 67 Service Operations, sales, reservation and administrative departments.

1973 Opening of the routes Paris/Gap in DHC-6 Twin Otter, St. Etienne/Nice and Grenoble/Metz in a B.99.

In light of a serious strike Air Traffic Controllers of the Civil Aviation (Direction General de l'Aviation Civil), the "Clement Marot"'s device isput in place on February 24th and is controlled by the military.During the conflict, numerous flights will be canceled.

The Courchevel Altiport is equipped with night beaconing system and a VASI (Visual Aircraft Slope Indicator)

Agreements of a partnership are concluded between Air Limousin, Air Champagne Ardennes and Pyrenair.

The number of aircraft increased with the arrival of the Cessna 401 (F-BOJZ), Cessna 402 (F-BRIY) and Cessna 411 (F-BPFM).

Air Alpes order 4 twin jet aircraft Aerospatiale Corvette SN-601 Serial 100 and option for 8 Corvette SN-601, serial 200.

Opening of the routes Nice/Propriano and Toulon/Propriano in DHC-6 Twin Otter In September opening of the route Annecy (Annecy-Meythet Airport)/Paris in a B-99.

The S.F.A. ( Aeronautical Training Services) from Challes-les-Eaux will conduct night landing trials at the Courchevel and l'Alpe d'Huez Altiports.

On November 1st, we see the opening of the route Roanne/St Etienne/Valence/Nice.

Due to its position Valence ensure the connecting flights to Dole and Toulouse.

During the winter season, the corresponding flights are ensured by a Pilatus, from the Gap, Hautes-Alpes to Barcelonnette, Vars (Hautes Alpes) and Serre Chevalier.

Air Alpes now fly about 50 routes.

Two new routes, under Air France's flag, are opened :
Marseille/Barcelonne, Marseille/Geneva and Metz/Dusseldorf.

Signature of agreements with Amaury de la Grange Institute for Technical and Pilots training with a Corvette.

Passengers carried: 110.000

Flying hours: 22.700

Staff: 180

The Corvettes - their arrivals

1974 year of the jet, as of September 28th the route Chambery/Paris will be used with the Corvette series 100 (F-BVPA s/n 5), F-BVPB (s/n 6) under Air France's colours, F-BVPC (s/n 12) will arrive in February 1975, then the F-BVPD (s/n13).

The Corvettes will also be used on the Air France Routes.

The B-99, F-BRUN will fly under the Air Limousin flag.

Arrival of the new Beechcraft B99 airplanes F-BUYG (s/n U63) and F-BVJL (s/n U-84)

In January a very important operation is undertaken at the Val d'Isere Altiport at an altitude of 2.450m and under a temperature of minus 7 degrees Celsius.A team of 6 engineers managed to disassemble and change an engine Turbomeca "Aztazou" on a Pilatus in 5 hours and this without any adapted infrastructure. The aircraft takes to the air again.

Opening of the route Toulon/Calvi.

Bomb alert aboard a B-99 en route to Dole/Paris (It was a prank)

Leasing of a Beechcraft B18 F-BIEK from Pyrenair for the hail-storm season. It will be based at Chalons-sur-Saône for hail prevention in the Burgundy vineyards.

Air Alpes take over Air Champagne Ardennes after the take over of Air Limousin, Air Rouergue and Pyrenair.

The infrastructure of the Megeve Altiport is improved.

In December, it is the opening of the route Paris/Megeve in Twin Otter DHC-6.

Passengers carried: + 110.000

Flying hours: 22.300

Staff: around 200

The start of the Fokker F.27 years

1975 On March 1st, inauguration of the new facilities at the Megeve Altiport.There is a tarred runway of 400m x40m with a medium slope of 8%. Snow removal is done all year around. Megeve will become one of the world's best equipped Altiport with an optical guidance system AVASI, a VHF communication system, Weather Station and a Fire Brigade.An Air-terminal chalet, and a 30x40m hangar complete the new facilities.

On April 26th , a contract was signed in Toronto, for the purchase of four De Havilland Canada DHC-7. The DHC-7 is a four-engined STOL (Short Take off Landing) aircraft with a passenger capacity of 40. The contract made a provision of two aircraft to be delivered end of 1977 and 2 in 1978.

On June 13th and 14th 1977, a similar aircraft DHC-7 will be presented to the Chambery/Aix-les-Bains Airport and on Annecy/Meythet Airport.Due to unsettled weather, it will not be presented to the Altiport.

Opening of the route Lyon/Toulon. An Air Alpes ticket office is set up at the new Lyon/Satolas Airport which will later becomes the Lyon Saint-Exupéry International Airport.

In October, arrival of the first Fokker F27 Mk 400 twin engined turboprop jet, with a capacity of 44, equipped with two Rolls-Royce Ltd, "Dart ": OO-SBP (s/n 10.340) engines, which will later become the F-BYAA.

Air Alpes hires for the first time 4 ex. Air France stewardesses .

On November 5th, the first flight takes place to Chambery/Paris in a Fokker 27.

A few months later the Fokker F-27 OO-HLN (s/n 10.342) will arrive, which will become the F-BYAB.It will be painted in the Air France colours.. This aircraft, chartered by the Compagnie Nationale, will be used on regional/ international routes.

These 2 Fokkers will be leased at first and then purchased. They will have a French registration at the end of the contract.

In October, a contract for artificial rain on the Teneriffe Island is signed.

This will be done with the Pilatus F-BTCG. The process was to create artificial rain by inseminating the clouds to provoke rain. Other contracts will follow in 1976 which was a year of big drought for the Champagne and Brittany Regions.

The DHC-6, F-BOOH, is under Pyrenair ownership.

Air Alpes begins to sell off its Pilatus. The F-BRPJ will be sold to the Nevers Parachutiste Center.

Increase of Company Capital as two new shareholders joined membership (Les Chambres de Commerce et d'Industrie de Savoie and Haute Savoie).

The majority of the stocks is still in the hands of the Ziegler family (Henri Ziegler) and Mr. Sylvain Floirat.

Passengers carried: 110.520

Flying Hours:

Staff: 238

1976 A new logo for Air Alpes, its aircraft and the company.

To celebrate this event a glass of Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial is offered on all F-27 for a period of 2 months. As well as a competition offered to passengers and booking agencies plus a national campaign.

A sales distribution agreement is reached with UTA company (Union des Transports Aeriens) for the Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions.

Another agreement is signed with PAN AM's (Pan American World Airways) sales office for all of France, except the Paris region.

Opening of the routes Toulon/Figari, Nice/Figari and Marseille/Figari

The Twin Otter, DHC-6, is sold to Air Rouergue, then the F-BTOS in Sweden.

The B-99 F-BSUJ and F-BSUK were sold to the Belgian Company Publi-Air. Regular routes from the Wallon Region, Departure from Liège (city) and Charleroi to Paris, London, Antwerp and Chambery.

Passengers carried: 151.873

Flying Hours:


1977 The group TAG Techniques d'Avant Garde becomes the main shareholder.

The Bourget Airport closes down, Air Alpes moves its facilities to the Orly Airport.

A recovery package foresee the closure of a certain number of routes that were not profitable.An huge conflict disrupts between Staff and Management

Several routes are abolished Chambery/Grenoble/St-Etienne/Toulouse,Grenoble/Metz.

During the summer season, the North Corsica Fire Department will sign an agreement. Two Pilatus PC-6 will be based at Calvi to flight forest fires in Balagne. These airplanes had the "Guet Arme" mission which means monitoring and signaling a fire, taking action immediately in order to fight it.For this mission, these planes were equipped with a 1.000 litre tanks and placed in the cabin. These 1.000 litre tanks could be deployed in just a few seconds via a trap door situated under the fuselage of the aircraft.

A contract is signed between Air Inter and Air Alpes for major maintenance/overhaul.of the Fokker F.27.

The experiment with the Corvette was not lucrative and the 4 aircraft will be withdrawn from the fleet.

A recovery package is put in place.

Passengers carried: 170.663

Flying hours:


1978 Two Fokker F27, with crew are put at Air Inter disposal.

Arrival of the DHC-6 Series 300 Twin Otter F-GBDA (S/N 566) and F-GBDB (s/n 574). The third one F-GBDC (s/n 576) was never taken into account The Fokker F27- Mk600 F-BYAR (s/n 10.430) joins the fleet.

A contract is signed with the Herault Department using a Pilatus to fight forest fires.

The DHC-6 Twin Otter F-BTOQ, F-BTOR, F-BTOT are sold to the French Air Force

Then the Beechcraft B-99, F-BTDV and F-BSTO leave for the U.S.A.

The Cessna F-BOJZ leaves the fleet.

Passengers carried: 192.200

Flying Hours:

Staff: 210

The Fokker F.28 arrival

1979 In April we see the arrival in the Air Alpes' fleet of a

The Parachutist Center will buy the DHC-6 F-BSUL and the Pilatus PC-6 F-BTCG and F-BTCH.AIR ALPES' mountain flight activities from Courchevel, will be continued for a certain time by AIR SAVOIE with a Pilatus and a BN.2 with few pilots removed from AIR ALPES.

The Fokker F28 will replace the Fokker F27, on the Chambery/Paris route.

Two other Fokker F27 Mk 400 arrived F-GBDE (s/n10.469) and F.27 Mk 600 F-GBGI (s/n 10.430)

Inauguration of the route Paris/Figari Southern Corscica in Fokker F28.

An agreement is signed with Tunisavia for the leasing of the Fokker F-27 F-GBDE with Air Alpes' engineers and technical assistants to ensure the routes Tunisia/Malte/Sfax/Tunisia/Djerba, Tunisia/El Borma and Tunisia/Tozeur. This contract will last till 1980.

Passengers carried: 153.800

Flying hours:


1980 Arrival of the Fokker F-27 Mk 400 F-GCJV (s/n 10.360) and the FokkerF-27 Mk 100 F-GCPA (s/n 10.258)

The Fairchild Hiller FH-227, F-GCLN (s/n 527) will carry Air Alpes' logo for a while

The Couchevel Airport is upgraded. The runway has been moved by 18 degrees in comparison with the previous one. It is also slightly extended.

On July 3rd, an agreement is signed with TAT.This agreement will take effect on September 7th and makes provisions for the two companies to share the air traffic zone and the sales organization.Hence, the fleet cuts down from using the F.28 and F.27

Passengers carried:

Flying Hours:


The end of a beautiful adventure

In 1981, TAT takes over 3/4 of Air Alpes

The logo TAT will appear on all Air Alpes aircraft

On September 14th, a new aircraft will carry the Air Alpes' logo for the last time.The Douglas aircraft (McDonnell Douglas DC-9) model 21 OY-KGE (s/n 47.305/441) and OY-KGD (s/n 47302/422) are leased to the Scandinavian Company SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System). They will operate the flights Chambéry/Paris/Chambery , Paris/Figari/Paris, Paris/Rodez/Paris etc...

An extraordinary human and technical adventure unfortunately end. However, it continues to survive, thanks to all "Les Anciens d'Air Alpes", who are grouped together under the organization "The Association Amicale des Anciens d'Air Alpes".

External links

Ties with: Association des Anciens d'Air Alpes: know the evolution of the Alpes aviation (History thumb-index/The Alpes and the aircraft)To find old schedules : for Air Limousin blogs :

References Notes

Air Alpes and the Association Amicales des Anciens d'Air Alpes Archives

Les Ailes (year 1962)

Aviation Magazine (from 1962 to 1981)

Air et Cosmos (from 1964 and 1981)

Air Britain News (1972 to 1981)

Le Trait d'Union ( French Branch from Air-Britain)

Newspaper "Le Dauphine Libéré"

Newspaper "Le Progrés"

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