Luxembourg-Courtemanche International Airport
|Luxembourg-Courtemanche International Airport|
|IATA: LCO – ICAO: WVLC|
|Owner||Flughafen vun Lëtzebuerg|
|Operator||Flughafen vun Lëtzebuerg|
|Serves||Luxembourg and Esch-sur-Alzette, Van Luxemburg|
|Location||Herscheid, Van Luxemburg|
|Elevation AMSL||106 m / 348 ft|
Luxembourg-Courtemanche International Airport (Commonly referred to as Luxembourg-Courtemanche or often just Courtemanche) is a major international airport located in between and about 30 minutes away from both major Van Luxemburger cities of Luxembourg and Esch-sur-Alzette. Nowadays, it is the largest airport in the Grand Duchy and an important gateway to the country, a role it took from Findel Airport in 1982. Nowadays, all foreign airlines as well as a number of Van Luxemburger airlines make use of Courtemanche instead of Findel Airport, and Courtemanche is steadily developing itself towards becoming an Airport city.
The first air services to Luxembourg were originally performed from the field at Findel, which eventually developed itself into the main international airport for the city of Luxembourg. With a significant increase in air travel throughout the 1950's and 1960's, Findel often proved itself to be to small with too little runways and parking space available for the additional traffic that visited the airport. As package holidays became more affordable in the late 1960's, the problems only became worse, to the extent that some airlines decided to make use of the smaller Flughafen Dreyer in Esch-sur-Alzette to serve their passengers quicker and at more convenient times. Complaints from local inhabitants living near both airports skyrocketed and complaints from unsatisfied travellers flooded in, making the management of Findel airport realize things had to change. For the short term, an extra runway and extra parking space was added some while away from the main Findel terminal in 1971, allowing services to continue for the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, the search for a more permanent solution began in earnest. The most logical solution would be to add further capacity to Findel, allowing it to continue its operations relatively close to the capital. This would mean that agricultural land would have to be repossessed from farmers that lived east of the airport, allowing the construction of a new terminal along with another new runway. The engineers working on the proposal however had problems fitting the new terminal and runway on this plot of land, as the connection between the new terminal and the pre-existing buildings and runways would have to be guided around the village of Herscheid and would thus make taxi times in excess of 20 minutes no exception, and the allocated space for the new runway would have meant guiding approaching aircraft straight over the villages of Findel and Herscheid as well as over the original terminal, creating health and safety issues. Realizing this was no option, engineers working on the Findel expansion project instead began to propose the creation of a completely new 'airport for the 1990's' on the other side of Herscheid, beyond the location where the expansion was originally expected to take place.
Count Michel de Courtemanche (b. 1918, better known as the owner of Automobiles Courtemanche) owned a large plot of land east of Herscheid on the north side of the A1 motorway, stretching out over 10 square kilometres. The plot consisted of both agricultural land that was rented out to agrarians in the area as well as some large sections of nature that were not yet legally protected. Family of the Count de Courtemanche originally bought the estate in 1902, with the intention of establishing a sizeable manor house near Herscheid and speculate with the rest of the land. These plans were however never fully realized and the manor house was never built, and neither had the family succeeded to rent out every section of the land. When contacted about the possibility of selling the estate to Flughafen vun Lëtzebuerg in 1972, the count agreed to sell the land at a somewhat discounted rate, provided the airport would be named after the family, with the intention of using the marketing potential of the name in his own advantage when selling his Courtemanche automobiles.
A completely new airport was planned on the Courtemanche estate in the years following, taking into account the growth rates of the past few decades. This resulted in an airport proposal that was much larger than Findel, encompassing five runways and a single large airport terminal building, with space for several extra wings that could be built at a later time. This made the airport remarkably future-proof, and probably far too large for the number of travellers in the initial decades.
Construction began with the clearing of large stretches of forest in 1975, much to the dismay of local nature groups. The foundations for several runways were prepared in the same year, and preparations to dig the underground car park below the main terminal were also well underway by the end of the year. However, due to the size of the project, construction of the entire airport took until 1984, when the first commercial flights took place. To raise additional money for the last stage of construction, a number of gates, hangars and cargo terminals were auctioned off just after GFG had announced its JetVL subsidiary would move all of its operations to Courtemanche Airport. Several airlines, among which Koopmans Transporten, obtained space at the airport.
The inauguration of the airport took place by the landing of a GFG Monteluci Khamsin SST carrying several VIPs landed on runway 18C, as several other commercial aircraft operated by other airlines executed a low pass over the terminal and later also landed ahead of the first commercial services to be operated from Courtemanche the next day. Eventually, an Air Ruccola flight bound for Arugula was the first to depart at 6:00 AM. At the same time, Loft Sündstedr flight 005 flown by Boeing 747-200 ZD-HSVE "Stat fan Windstrand" landed on another runway, marking the first commercial arrival.
After the inauguration, the growth of passenger and cargo movements proved to be less than expected. Due to the rather ambitious size of the airport, expansion has so far proven to be unnecessary, and whilst the airport has underwent significant modernisation and upgrades from 2005-2009, no new gates were added as there are still sufficient gates for new airlines on the G and H piers. the current growth predictions indicate that a new wing of the main terminal may have to be added in the 2020-2030 timeframe, adding several more piers.
Courtemanche Airport was built in the 1980’s with the vision of maintaining one single terminal that could be expanded if necessary, rather than constructing different terminals. All gates and main airport facilities can be found under one roof. Following modernization in 2005-2009, the departure and arrivals hall has been separated in two areas, one for domestic and Martigues Area flights and one for other international flights. Passengers pass security just past check-in in their respective departure hall, rather than at the gate, regardless of the destination. Some gates however have a second security screen immediately before boarding, to comply with the demands of some international destinations.
Hall 1 (Domestic and Martigues)
The first arrivals and departure hall allows access to Piers A through C, with a total of approximately 85 gates. Pier A is almost entirely under control of GFG subsidiary JetVL who operates most of its flights within Wilassia from Courtemanche airport. Piers B and C are at the disposal of other airlines operating domestic and Martigues area flights, and includes several large-capacity gates that allow for the use of double-decker aircraft.
Gates B1-B7 are often frequented by low-cost carriers and short-range commuter services, as these gates are bus stations that allow (dis)embarkation from aircraft parked on the apron, away from the main terminal. The lower costs charged for parking aircraft on the apron rather than at the gate tend to translate in lower ticket costs, thus explaining their popularity with price-conscious carriers.
Hall 2 (Other International)
The second hall serves all remaining destinations with Piers D through H, a total of around 100 gates. Pier D is reserved exclusively for JetVL services, with the remaining piers being available to other airlines operating to non-Martigues destinations.
Unlike the first departure hall, no bus gates are available in the international hall, forcing all flights to be routed through regular gates.
Both departure halls have a main plaza that serve as the main tax-free shopping centres at the airport. Beyond these, a regular shopping mall is available before check-in. Ample restaurants, bars and cafes are also available both before and after airport security, with refreshment kiosks being available at locations on every pier.
In addition to these, the airport also offers additional services such as several hotels, of which there are two within the confines of the departure hall, to cater to potential transfer passengers. The second floor of both departure halls is dedicated to a variety of lounges, among which one offered by Flughafen vun Lëtzebuerg itself, which can be accessed by any traveller at a set access fee. Other lounges include a GFG Starlounge and a Cornflower Lounge (Loft Sündstedr).
Facilities such as multi-faith rooms, conference rooms and fully-equipped bathrooms are also available at the airport, as well as a spa and library.
The underground railway station at Courtemanche was constructed together with the airport, but was later renovated in order to allow the NEB to operate high-speed trains on the line between Luxembourg and Esch.
The national Van Luxemburger railways, NEB, operate a frequent connection with both cities, with HST services leaving every 15 minutes and other services departing in either directions roughly every 10 minutes throughout the day. At night, this frequency is reduced to about one train every 20 minutes, with a HST train leaving every hour.
Both types of rail services however also stop at the station at Findel Airport and regional services also stop at numerous stations in between, but intercity services also frequently continue well beyond the two cities, with services terminating as far away as Arugula in Ruccola.
Courtemanche is located directly off the A1 motorway that connects both major cities. The twelve-lane supermotorway traverses the airport through a tunnel under the runways 18L, C and R, over a length of 5 kilometres.
Several exits and entrances connect the infrastructure of the airport to the A1, depending on the type of parking the traveller requires. A parking garage is located underneath the main terminal building, offering up to 1,500 parking spaces for both short-stay parkers and rental vehicles. Further away from the main terminal several parking facilities cater to a variety of travellers, allowing for a grand total of around 20,000 parking spaces. An additional 10,000 parking spaces are available to employees only and are scattered throughout staff-only areas of the airport.
Bus & Taxi
In front of the main entrance, a bus station allows bus services to the villages of Herscheid, Findel, and other surrounding towns, as well as direct buses to both Luxembourg and Esch. Further intercity buses are available to other destinations further away, including cities such as Zinzendorf, Enzersdorf and Villacoublay. These are however not as frequent as train services, meaning they are also far less popular.
Taxi services are available from the taxi stand at the same location. Only approved airport taxis have access to the official taxi stand, in an attempt to eliminate the illegal taxi market. A variety of different companies from the nearby cities and towns have been approved for airport services, including Taxi vun Lëtzebuerg and taxi services from Esch. The taxi stand at Courtemanche has once been described by a VLT official as 'the best welcome a foreigner could receive, from our point of view', referring to the sheer endless lines of VLT L6TX taxis usually waiting there.
Transit to Findel Airport
In order to facilitate easy transit to and from Findel Airport, which currently accommodates all GFG flights, a metro line has been dug under the town of Herscheid, connecting the two airports within about ten minutes. The system has four different stops and can be used by transfer passengers that may not pass immigration as well as those that are domestic or Martigues area passengers; this is achieved by having two different services on the same line. Only passengers that have passed the full security screening may make use of the line, others that have not arrived or will not be departing by aircraft need to make use of rail or bus services to Findel. One service transports international passengers (which would arrive in Hall 2 and normally need to pass immigration to travel in Van Luxemburg) between Hall 2 and the International terminal at Findel, whereas the other service ferries domestic and Martigues passengers from the station in Hall 1 to the Domestic terminal at Findel. The system is designed in such a way that International and domestic/Martigues passengers do not make use of the same services, which would compromise immigration and the Martigues external border. The 'international' service thus also bypasses the 'domestic' stations.
Nevertheless, the transit service has resulted in security breaches at times, as pulling the emergency brakes at the right moment would result in the metro train halting and its doors automatically opening to facilitate an emergency exit from the train. To prevent illegal immigrants escaping from the metro into Van Luxemburg proper in this way, the Marechaussee has posted personnel at all stations, with entrance and exit to the station only being possible by presenting the flight ticket to the entrance/exit gates.
Airlines and destinations
|Aer Maltrópa||Argensborough, Corcaigh Nua, Eochaill, Sráid-bhó||2|
|Air Inter||Argentan, Colbourg, Lyon, Masènna, Montreau, Valence||1|
|Air Liberte||Heleventia, St. Louis||2|
|Air Ruccola||Arugula, Porto Verde, Scalogno||1|
|Air Ruccola Regional||Iuzigno, Montaglio, Timsuano||1|
|Air Valcluse||Argentan, Lyon, Montreau, Valence||1|
|AirNaut||Arnötvár, Szentlászló, Szombathely||1|
|Akimonadi Overseas Supersonic Airways||Canvatica, Kent, Lesourdsville Lake, Pickerington||1|
|Avija Valkyr||Peace Valley||2|
|Ceniana||Cenial, Chaleur, Helsingberg, Kingsmouth, Vitalita-International, Wellington||2|
|GFG Regiojet||Arnötvár, Arugula, Arvaglio, Enzersdorf, Levallois, Lyon, San Giustra, Sint-Annabeek, Venezia, Villacoublay, Weiningen, Zinzendorf, Zutgen||1|
|Jablko Airlines||Port Brno||2|
|JetRepublic Airways||Arugula, Timsuano||1|
|JetVL||Argentan, Arnötvár, Arugula, Arvaglio, Avignon, Canvatica, Cabanac Seguenville, Châteroux, Chateauneuf, Ciasiupoli, Clairmont, Colbourg, Covington, Dennújváros, Enzersdorf, Esch-sur-Alzette, Fontainebleau, Franklin, Gásztahévíz, Grosszúpereszteg, Hamaignano, Hammersfield, Héléna, Hyères Islands, Invercargill, Issamoulenc, Jassans Riottie, Keatingston, Kent, Koetzingue, Lepastapole, Lesourdville Lake, Levallois, Lugano, Lyon, Mannerheim, Mannheim, Marseille, Masènne, Molsheim, Montaglio, Pickerington, Port Liberty, Porto Verde, Racquinghem, Romilly-sur-Mer, Scalogno, San Giustra, St. Andrews, St. Georges, Senchal, Sint-Annabeek, Somuisa, Szentlászló, Szombathely, Timsuano, Valence, Veilliers, Venezia, Villacoublay, Watervoort, Weiningen, Zinzendorf||1,2|
|Jungastian Imperial Airways||Héléna, St. Andrews, St. Georges, Senchal, Veilliers||1|
|Moravian Airlines||Port Brno||2|
|Royal Kingtonian Airways||Kingsford, Kingsmouth, Lucytown, Narleson, Wexchester||2|
|Ruccolian Airlines||Arugula, Bankstead, Ciasiupoli||1,2|
|Ruccolian Connection||Hamaignano, Hamiuzaro, Somuisa||1|