Nice Côte d’Azur closes its eighth year of record-breaking growth

Published on 04-01-19

With passenger traffic up by 4.1% to 13.85 million travellers in 2018, Nice Côte d’Azur has consolidated its position as France’s second-largest airport platform. The rise in direct destinations in France and abroad has fuelled the natural growth of traffic and connections for tourists.

For the eighth year in succession, Nice Côte d'Azur airport has seen strong growth in passenger traffic. One year after breaking through the symbolic barrier of 13 million passengers, France’s second platform came close to the 14-million mark, with 13.85 travellers, or an increase of more than half a million, and has now seen eight consecutive months per year with more than one million passengers. At the same time, there were fewer aircraft movements at Nice Côte d’Azur last year. This apparent contradiction can be explained by the appeal of the destination that enables airlines to achieve record-breaking load factors of up to 99% in the peak summer period, while the growth in traffic is also being fuelled by the use of more modern and less polluting aircraft.

In the summer of 2018, Nice Côte d’Azur reached the unprecedented number of 117 direct destinations, of which 17 were new. The growth of connections continued in the winter season, with 12 new destinations. More importantly, the rise in passenger traffic in the winter season was up by 7.8% on 2017, which was even higher than the growth in the summer season (+2.6% versus 2017).

“Our ambitious partnership policy with the airlines has enabled us to continue to reduce the seasonal effect that has traditionally conditioned our activity. The reduction of fees in the winter season is a strong signal that is unique in France and acts as a source of additional flows”, enthuses Dominique Thillaud, Chairman of the Board of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur.

Exponential international growth

Year after year, Nice Côte d'Azur Airport welcomes more and more visitors from foreign countries. Last year, international flights carried more than 9 million passengers, up 4.8% on 2017, while traffic on domestic flights grew by 2.8%.
While Europe, and the United Kingdom in particular, remains the main provenance of these visitors, long-haul connections are fuelling arrivals from the east coast of the United States or the Gulf states.

Support of this development, in June 2018, Nice Côte d’Azur announced its project to extend Terminal 2, which will ultimately have six additional aircraft stands capable of receiving long- and medium-haul flights. This extension will increase the capacity of the platform to 18 million passengers by 2021, while Terminal 1 will receive two additional gates at the same time.

“Our strategy clearly consists of offering a quality and competitive stop-over for passengers to as many destinations as possible worldwide. We are convinced that the growth of air traffic and the saturation of French airspace requires the existing ultra-centralised model to be reviewed. This is already the case in all the major European countries. This strategic option is favourable from both the economic and environmental perspectives, because it will reduce the distances covered and the turn-around times”, explains Dominique Thillaud.

A carbon-neutral group

In 2011, the Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur Group decided to apply for the certification of the environmental impact of its activities. In 2016, Nice Côte d’Azur became the first French airport to receive level 3+ carbon-neutral accreditation, which is the highest standard of Airport Carbon Accreditation. In September 2018, the two other platforms managed by the group, Cannes-Mandelieu and Golfe de Saint-Tropez, also obtained their certification.

The emissions from Nice Côte d’Azur airport no longer exceed 130 grammes CO2eq per passenger, while the average of European airports is 1,610 grammes.

In order to strengthen its policy to protect the environment and the appeal of the region, the group also contributed to the project to extend the tramway, by providing €12.6 million of funds. Since 14 December 2018, it has been possible to access Nice Côte d'Azur Airport by this new means of electric transport, which is expected to carry 15,000 people, travellers, companions and employees every day.

“This new connection with the city symbolically closed a year that saw the development of our network and the fruits of our various actions in favour of the environment. Tomorrow, Nice Côte d’Azur will be at the heart of an intermodal rail, road and air system, and will further develop its capacity to become a preferred stop-over for passengers looking for an alternative to the traditional hub in Paris”, concluded Dominique Thillaud.

Nice Côte d’Azur is ready for a direct connection with China

Building on the various actions already carried out over the last two years to provide an improved welcome for Chinese tourists visiting the French Riviera, Nice Côte d’Azur airport is launching a hotline to strengthen its presence on the WeChat network. This new tool should help to attract passengers from China and meet their needs when they arrive in Nice.

This news service enriches the range of tools available on the platform. A welcome area equipped with interactive terminals and signage in Mandarin has been installed in the terminals.