Today in Transportation History – 1975: Dedication of a New Airport in Central France

A dedication ceremony was held for a new international airport in east-central France. French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing formally inaugurated the airport, which opened to passengers a week later.

Lyon Satolas Airport was built in Colombier-Saugnieu; this commune is approximately 13 miles from Lyon, the third largest city in France. The facility was designed in large part to handle the commercial airline traffic which the smaller Lyon-Bron Airport, located within the metropolitan area of Lyon, could no longer accommodate.

Within a couple of decades after its debut, Lyon Satolas Airport was firmly established as a vital transportation center for France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. A major development in this regard took place in 1994 when the LGV Rhône-Alpes first brought high-speed rail service (including direct links to Paris and Marseille) to the airport. In addition, the airport has served as a hub for the national airline Air France since 1997.

In 2000, the facility was renamed Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport in honor of one of France’s favorite sons on the centennial of his birth. A native of Lyon, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry achieved fame as a writer whose works included “The Little Prince” and “Night Flight.” He was also an aviation pioneer who disappeared in 1944 while flying over the Mediterranean Sea on a reconnaissance mission for the Free French Air Force during World War II. The train station serving the airport was likewise renamed after him.

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