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Air Alpes
LogoAirAlpes.jpg
IATA
LP
ICAO
ALP
Callsign
AIRALPES
Founded 1961
Ceased operations 1981
Destinations
Headquarters
Key people Michel Ziegler (founder)

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

Contents

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.

Piper, Pilatus and caterpillar shuttle at Courchevel Altiport

The Early Pilatus years

Pilatus at Courchevel Altiport

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 15, 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.

Meribel Altiport Chalet/Air Terminal..

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.

Glacier landing with a Pilatus

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.

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.

Pilatus PC-6 F-BKQY supplying a hut

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

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.

Beechcraft SFERMA Marquis at Chambéry Airport

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

1966 In July, De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, (CF-UCD) will be presented to the staff of Megeve and Courchevel Altiports.

Air Alpes will offer training of high altitude flying.

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 TV series "Les Chevaliers du Ciel" - (Third series - episode 8)

Bdplagne.JPG

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 series, it should be delivered in October.

Twin Otter, Pilatus with pistons engine and Piper at Courchevel Altiport
Air Alpes in the 1960s
Year Passengers Transported Flying Hours Staff
1961 2,500 30 4 (2 Pilots/1 Secretary/1Engineer)
1962 3,800 500 5 including 1 engineer
1963 5,200 810 7
1964 5,000 821 6
1965 3,960 797 5
1966 6,430 1.043
1967 10,590 1,725 17
1968 16,480 1,043 28
1969 26,296 3,263 35 including 14 pilots, 5 engineers
1970 35,796 4,847 17 pilots, 15 engineers, 23 sales and administrative

The Pilatus Years

The year 1972 saw three new Pilatus PC-6 join the fleet:

F-BTCE (s/n 573),
F-BTCG (s/n 551)
F-BTCH (s/n 531)

The skill of the mechanics charged with working upon the Pilatus was typified in January 1974 when a 5 hour Turbomeca "Aztazou"engine change without any adapted infrastructure is completed at the Val d'Isere Altiport altitude 2.450m under a temperature of minus 7 degrees Celsius.

Finding opportunities for the Pilatus fleet, F-BTCG was used on contracts to create artificial rain on the island ofTeneriffe, and drought relief in Champagne and Brittany Regions by seeding the clouds to create rain in during the drought of 75-76.

Air Alpes begins to sell off its Pilatus aircraft around 1975 but still finds additional uses for some of them through 1977, such as fighting forest fires for the Herault Department and the North Corsica Fire Department. Based in Calvi These airplanes performed "Guet Arme" missions which means monitoring and signaling a fire, taking action immediately in order to fight it. For these fire fighting missions, the planes were equipped with a 1.000 litre tank 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

After AIR ALPES' begins phasing out its last Pilatus mountain flight routes from Courchevel, routes will be continued for some time by AIR SAVOIE and its Pilatus and a BN.2 aircraft, and a few pilots formerly with AIR ALPES.

The Pilatus Fleet

F-BRPJ will be sold to the Nevers Parachutiste Center 1976
F-BTCG The Parachutist Center will buy Pilatus PC-6 1980
F-BTCH. The Parachutist Center will buy Pilatus PC-61980
F-BJSZ s/n 525),
F-BQKY (s/n 549)
F-BOJJ (s/n 513),
F-BTCE (s/n 573),
F-BTCG (s/n 551)
F-BTCH (s/n 531)

Pilatus PC-6 Southern Alpes Routes 1972-75:

Gap - St Crepin, winter season, a Pilatus PC-6
Gap - Serre-Chevalier, winter season, a Pilatus PC-6
Chambery - Val d'Isere, Pilatus
Chambery - l'Alpe d'Huez. Pilatus
Gap, Hautes-Alpes - Barcelonnette,
Vars (Hautes Alpes) - Serre Chevalier. winter season, Pilatus,

De Havilland DHC- Twin Otters

Twin Otter F-BOOH Twin Otter F-BOOH equipped with skis

By 1966, Air Alpes found itself in the market for a STOL aircraft with greater capacity and performance. Among the two types offering the most potential were the Short Skyvan and De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter. Due to its adaptability to flying in mountain regions the Twin Otter 100 series soon won out, and in 1967 an order was completed for the first Twin Otters for with first deliveries scheduled to Air Alpes for October.

The, F-BOOH,Twin Otter takes off, with Courchevel Chalet-Air -Terminal "L'Altibar" in the background
Beechcraft B-99 flying above Annecy Area

DHC-6 (s/n 72) F-BOOH's delivery on December 7, 1967 allowed winter operations into the Courchevel Altiport as the Twin Otters were seemingly readily adaptable to be equipped with skis. The 19 seat Pratt & Whitney PT6A powered aircraft were also used on the Chambery - Grenoble - Nice - Ajaccio, during the summer months.

Very shortly after its delivery to Air Alpes the added complexities and very delicate and costly operation of the ski-equipped Twin Otter is realized when F-BOOH is damaged during a training flight at the Courchevel Altiport. This incident was to spur the Courchevel Council into a plan to conduct regular snow removal program at the Altiport airfield from there forward.

During the overhaul and repair of the aircraft, a Twin Otter D-DIHA of General Air was leased and it is soon decided the Twin Otters will no longer be fitted with skis, due the penalty of being able to only transport 16 passengers instead of the usual 19, in order to compensate for the lateral instability of the ski equipped airplane at take off.

In May, the DHC-6, F-BOOH, rejoins the fleet after been overhauled and modified to a Series 200 configuration with a longer fuselage nose and more spacious cabin. As the Courchevel Altiport now conducts snow removal skis will no longer be required.

The "Regional" Association with Air France begins

After 1968 it was becoming apparent many smaller provincial towns wished to be connected directly to Paris by air. Among some of the smaller regional airlines that begun to fill this need were Rousseau Aviation, TAT (Touraine Air Transport) Air Paris or Europe Aero Service EAS - Europe Air Services. The French regional air transport sector would eventually comprise as many as 50 regional airlines, flying as many as 100 regular or seasonal routes. During this period these airlines carried more than 500,000 passengers.

In 1969, Air Alpes began flying the Chambery to Paris (Paris - Le Bourget Airport) route with 5 daily flights Monday through Friday.

In 1970 under Zieglers initiation, ATAR (Regional Air Transport Association) is established. The association comprised the following French regional airlines: Air Alpes, Air Alsace, Air Aquitaine, Air Languedoc, Pyrenair, Air Rouergue, Air Antilles, Air Martinique and Guyane Air Transport and promoted the needs of smaller airlines like Air Alpes in relation to the larger Flag air carriers like Air France.

Air France Banner

By 1972 and 1973 Air Alpes was flying in cooperation with Air France and under their "banner." When these Air France/Air Alpes routes were included as one, Air Alpes by the end of 1973 covered 50 routes. The following are the first "banner routes" flown by Air Alpes in cooperation with Air France. The first planes to be flown in full Air France colors by Air Alpes were the Aerospatiale Corvettes followed by the F-27 that was bought by Air Alpes from Compagnie Nationale.

Air France Banner Routes
Courchevel - Paris (Beginning in1972 -Equipment: DHC-6 Twin Otter)
Courchevel - Geneva (Beginning in1972 -Equipment: DHC-6 Twin Otter)
Marseille - Milan (Beginning in1972 - Equipment: DHC-6 Twin Otter)
Marseille - Geneva (Beginning in1972 -Equipment: DHC-6 Twin Otter)
Marseille - Barcelonne (1973)
Marseille - Geneva (1973)
Metz- Düsseldorf (1973)
Chambery - Paris (1974)

Towards the end of 1973 Air Alpes was flying 50 routes under its own banner and IATA codes including these Air France/Air Alpes routes and flights jointly marketed by the two airlines. Sales and ticket passenger distribution agreements yielding beneficial results as have been experienced with Air France leads to the forging of further agreements with other larger airlines such as Union des Transports Aerien for the Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions and Pan American World Airways sales office for all of France, except for the Paris region as of 1976.

1969 The first Beechcraft Model 99 ordered arrives in Autumn.

The 15 seat aircraft is equipped with 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-A20 engines and flow by two crews members. In 1970, Chambery - Grenoble - Nice routes are begun with B 99 Airliners.

Beechcraft Model 99 Fleet
Drawing showing the Meribel Altiport project with a Dash 7 flying above
F-BRUN will eventually fly under the Air Limousin (flag/banner/code?)
F-BRUX (s/n U122) will joint the fleet.
F-BRUF (s/n U-121)
F-BUYG (s/n U63)
F-BVJL (s/n U-84)
F-BSUJ (s/n U62) - sold to the Belgian Company Publi-Air in 1976.
F-BSUK (s/n U21) - sold to the Belgian Company Publi-Air in 1976.
F-BTMJ (s/n U-129)
F-BTMK (s/n U130),
F-BTDV - equipped with more powerful engines/leave the fleet for the U.S.A in 1978.
F-BSTO - equipped with more powerful engines/leave the fleet for the U.S.A in 1978.
Breguet 941 during the test runs at l'Alpe d'Huez Altiport

1969 was also a year in which much attention was garnered upon Air Alpes after the four engined STOL (Short take off and landing) Breguet 941 was tested and displayed at the Bourget Show (Salon International de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace de Paris-Le Bourget Paris Air Show), with full Air Alpes logos. In autumn, a number of test runs were conducted to the various altiports at Megeve, Meribel, l'Alpe d'Huez' with the goal of demonstrating the capabilities of operating this larger capacity STOL airliner in the regular and challenging mountain regime environments. The Breguet 941 was very similar in design to another de Havilland product, the Dash-7; a 40 seater STOL airliner which Air Alpes was later to sign contracts ordering the type for delivery circa 1977-78.

1972 also saw the opening of the Dole - Paris, and Paris/Geneva - Courchevel routes with the Twin Otter. In November, just a few years before the arrival of the Aerospatiale Corvettes flights from Marseille - Milan and Marseille - Geneva begin being flown under Air France's code and banner. Below is a brief list detailing the Twin Otter fleet and their dispositions.

Disposition of the earlier Twin Otters after 1973
F-BOOH - sold to Pyrenair ownership.
F-BTOO (s/n 291) - From PIA eventually sold to French Air Force
F-BTOQ (s/n 292) - From PIA eventually sold to French Air Force
F-BTOR (s/n 298) - From PIA eventually sold to French Air Force
F-BTOS (s/n 299) - From PIA eventually sold to Air Rouergue
F-BTOT (s/n 300) - From PIA
F-BSUL - eventually sold to the Parachutist Center
DHC-6 Series 300 Twin Otter's arrive again in 1978 & 79
F-GBDA (s/n 566)
F-GBDB (s/n 574)
F-BYAG (s/n 342)


The developing years

Twin Otter DHC-6 & B-99 Routes 1972-75:

Dole - Paris - Twin Otter DHC-6, B-99 (Chambery/Dole/Paris Monday morning and return Friday Evening)
Lyon - Toulon.
Toulon - Figari - Nice - Figari
Marseille - Figari
Liège (city) - Paris
Charleroi - Paris
Liège - London
Charlero - London
Charlero - Antwerp
Liège (city) - Antwerp
Liège (city) - Chambery
Charlero - Chambery
Toulon - Ajaccio
Toulon - Bastia
Toulon - Vichy
Toulon - St Etienne
Toulon - to the Wallon Region Airports

As Air Alpes entered into the 1970s many improvements were made at the air"Altiports" which Air Alpes found almost exclusive niches. Among these were the Couchevel Airport which is upgraded. The runway has been moved by 18 degrees in comparison with the previous one. An Air-terminal chalet, and a 30 m × 40 m hangar complete the new facilities

March 1, marks the inauguration of new facilities at the Megeve Altiport including a pavement tarred runway of 400 m × 40 m with a medium slope of 8% and provisions for year around snow removal. Megeve will become one of the world's best equipped Altiports with an optical guidance system AVASI, a VHF communication system, Weather Station and a Fire Brigade.

Lyon Satolas Airport which later becomes the Lyon Saint-Exupéry International Airport gets a new ticketing office and passenger lounge.

Corvette painted with Air France/Air Alpes

The Corvettes - their arrivals

Air Alpes initial flirtations with jet aircraft date back to April 1971 when Aertirrena demonstrated a Yakovlev Yak-40 registration I-AKA. Aviaexport also lobbied to place the Yak-40 with Air Alpes during a sales presentation of CCP-87791 during that year, however nothing came of these initial presentations and Air Alpes made no commitments.

In 1972 Air Alpes entered into the Air France reservation system ALPHA 3. During this same year the GIECAR group (Groupement d'Interet Economique des Compagnies Aeriennes Regionales) was created, leading to greater planned associations with Air France when agreements are forged to form a partnership between Air Limousin, Air Champagne Ardennes and Pyrenair, all flying on the behalf of Air France.

Among the new routes, flown under Air France's are: Marseille to Barcelona, Marseille to Geneva and Metz to Düsseldorf.

1974

This association with Air France continued with the decision to place orders for four Aerospatiale Corvette SN-601 Serial 100 "short range business regional jets." The orders were followed by and option for eight additional Corvette SN-601, serial 200d models and finally in 1974 Air Alpes entered the jet age with the arrival of the Aerospatiale Corvette series 100 and a further decision to have Amaury de la Grange Institute train its pilots to fly them. On September 28 flying in the full colors of Air France upon the Chambery - Paris route, Air Alpes entered the "jet age" when Corvette F-BVPA (s/n 5), commenced flying regional feeder services.

Corvette series 100 Fleet
F-BVPA (s/n 5) September 28, 1974 Chambery -Paris
F-BVPB (s/n 6) September 1974
F-BVPC (s/n 12) February 1975,
F-BVPD (s/n13).

In 1974 Air Alpes acquires Air Champagne Ardennes soon after the recent take over of Air Limousin, Air Rouergue and Pyrenair. The number of aircraft continue to increase with the arrival of the Cessna 401 (F-BOJZ), Cessna 402 (F-BRIY) and Cessna 411 (F-BPFM) from this consortium of companies.

1975

Fokker F-27, at Orly Airport

Additional Corvettes F-BVPC (s/n 12) and F-BVPD (s/n13) arrived beginning in February 1975 and were to be used upon other Air France regional routes.

Air Alpes was also interested in the 30/40 seat Dassault Aviation, Mystere 30, however this aircraft failed to make it into production and was cancelled by Dassault in 1975.

One aspect of the Corvettes which proved to be very successful was the Air France branding, and in October the first of 2 Fokker F-27 turboprops arrived. The Fokker F27 Mk 400 was a turboprop aircraft, with a capacity of 44, equipped with two Rolls-Royce Ltd, "Dart engines,": (s/n 10.340) which was soon register as F-BYAA. The first F-27 route was Chambery to Paris, the same route initiated by the Corvettes a year earlier. Subsequent routes would be flown by Air Alpes Fokker F-BYAB delivered on November 5, the first F-27 to wear the full painted colours of Air France just as the Corvettes did.

Fokker F-27 Mk 100 Fleet
F-GCPA (s/n 10.258) - Delivered - 1980
Fokker F27 Mk 400 Fleet
F-GBDE (s/n10.469)
F-BYAA. (s/n 10.340) - formerly OO-SBP
F-BYAB (s/n 10.342) - formerly OO-HLN
Fokker F.27 Mk 600 Fleet
F-BYAR (s/n 10.430) - Delivered - 1978
F-GBGI (s/n 10.430)
F-GCJV (s/n 10.360) - Delivered - 1980
Fokker F-28 Mk 1000 Fleet
F-BUTI (s/n 11.034)
F-GBBS (s/n 11.050)
F-GBBT (s/n 11.052)
The Fairchild Hiller FH-227 Fleet
F-GCLN (s/n 527) Delivered - 1980


Air Alpes New Logo and Business History circa 1976

1972 was a year new business expansion opportunities were explored with the purchase of 30% of AVI ALPI, an Italian air transport company based in Treto Northern Italy and using a fleet of Piper Aircraft and Pilatus Aircraft PC-6) aircraft. Avi ALPI had ben created by Aerosud and famed WW II pilot Martino Aichner. company.

Air Alpes in the 1970s
Year Passengers Transported Flying Hours Staff
1971
1972 85.678 15.137 143 ( 38 Technical Management, 38 pilots, 67 Service Operations,

sales, reservation and administrative departments)

1973 110.000 22.700 180
1974 + 110.000 22.300 200
1975 110.520 238
1976 151.873
1977 153.800
1978 192.200 210
1979
1980 153.800

In 1976 Air Alpes gets a new logo for its aircraft and the company. To celebrate the event a glass of Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial is offered on all F-27 for a period of 2 months. A national campaign and competition is also offered to passengers and booking agencies. While the majority of the stocks still remain in the hands of the Ziegler family (Henri Ziegler) and Mr. Sylvain Floirat, by arranging additional financing two new shareholders take part ownership, they are Les Chambres de Commerce et d'Industrie de Savoie and Haute Savoie.

1977

By 1977 The experiment with the Corvette proved not to be lucrative for Air Alpes and the four aircraft were withdrawn from the fleet.

Unfortunately the added financing of the Chamber of Commerce groups was insufficient and the group TAG Techniques d'Avant Garde becomes the main shareholder of Air Alpes, prompting a rapid return of the Cessna F-BOJZ, as a recovery package is put into place with the realization that a number of routes were not profitable.

Additional recovery plans lead to the abolishment and closure of several routes including Chambery - Grenoble - St. Etienne - Toulouse, Grenoble-Metz along with a contract for Air Inter to perform major maintenance/overhaul of the Fokker F-27's flown by Air Alpes, erupting in huge staff and management conflicts.

A Fokker F-28 at the Figari Airport

In 1978, another Fokker F27- Mk600 registered, F-BYAR (s/n 10.430) joins the fleet, while two Fokker F27s, "with crew" were dedicated Air Inter and their routes, while in

April 1979 the first of a fleet of Fokker F-28 Mk 1000 F-BUTI (s/n 11.034) twinjets arrived. The Fokker F28 equipped with 65 seats replaced the Fokker F-27, on the Chambery to Paris route. Air Alpes also inaugurated the Paris to Figari Southern Corsica route with the Fokker F28 with the delivery of F-GBBS (s/n 11.050) and F-GBBT (s/n 11.052) which followed a short time later. The F-28 fleet complimented the F-27's and this fleet continued to grow during 1980 as Fokker F-27 Mk 400 F-GCJV (s/n 10.360), Fokker F-27 Mk 100 F-GCPA (s/n 10.258), and the Fairchild Hiller FH-227, F-GCLN (s/n 527) are delivered and carry Air Alpes' logo.

"The End of a Beautiful Adventure"

On July 3, 1980 an agreement is signed with (TAT) Touraine Air Transport. This initial agreement will take effect on September 7 and makes provisions for the two companies to share sales, organization, and traffic. Additionally, the agreement leads to reductions to the F.28 and F.27. fleet.

In 1981, TAT acquires over 3/4 of Air Alpes and the rebranding of all Air Alpes airplanes begin.

On September 14, a new aircraft will carry the Air Alpes' livery for the last time when the Douglas DC-9-21 aircraft OY-KGE (s/n 47.305/441) and OY-KGD (s/n 47302/422) are leased from SAS Scandinavian Airlines System.

They will operate the flights Chambéry-Paris-Chambery , Paris-Figari-Paris, Paris-Rodez-Paris etc...

Douglas DC-9 at Düsseldorf, Photo Hans-Werner Klein. http://www.airplanephotos.de/

An extraordinary human and technical adventure unfortunately ends. 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".

Incidents and accidents

1961 September 2 - Pilatus destroyed during a training flight.

1970 - January 15, Beech 99 F-BRUF lands short of the runway at Chambery- Aix-les-Bains Airport. All passengers and crew were safe, and sound but the aircraft was destroyed. Following this accident, the Chambery-Aix-les-Bains airport (Chambéry Airport) will be equipped with an ILS (Instrument Landing System) to allow the security and reliability of the flights. This had been requested by Air Alpes previously for a long time.

1970 - A DHC-6 Twin Otter is damaged during a training flight at the Courchevel Altiport

External links

Ties with: Association des Anciens d'Air Alpes: http://www.airalpes.com/ To know the evolution of the Alpes aviation http://www.aeroclub-meribel.com/ (History thumb-index/The Alpes and the aircraft) To find old schedules: http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/lp.htm Links for Air Limousin blogs: http://blogs.aol.fr/airpassion87/airlimousin/

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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