The length of its name is not the only thing that makes EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg unique. The airport is one of the few in the world operated in two countries. The airport provides air service to the cities of Basel in Switzerland and Mulhouse in France as well as the surrounding regions. The airport is physically located in France near the country’s international borders with Germany and Switzerland. While most airports are known by a single airport code the EuroAirport has three. The BSL code acknowledges the Swiss operations while the code MLH identifies the French operations at the airport. Joint operations are identified by the airport code EAP.
History of EuroAirport
Air operations began in the 1930s but ceased during World War II. As a part of its neutrality, Switzerland prohibited all flights in its airspace during the war. At the end of the conflict, officials of France and Switzerland established an agreement for a jointly-operated airport located on French soil with customs services for both countries. Construction occurred in the early 1950s. Along with the standard runways and terminals, this project included a direct road from the airport’s terminal space to the Swiss boarder without passing through French customs. The airport currently adopted the EuroAirport name in 1987. Prior to that, it was referred to as Basel-Mulhouse International Airport.
Management of the airport is handled by an international board. Management agreements define the board as eight members each from France and Switzerland. Because of the airports proximity to Germany, the board also includes two members from that country in a nonvoting capacity.
The terminal facilities at EuroAirport form a “Y” shape with passenger gates extending along both arms of the terminal. Each arm of the Y provides principle service to travelers destined for either France or Switzerland while the center leg provides more general services. Expansions have enlarged the facility over the years and more are planned in the future. The airport is adding about 1 million additional passengers every 5 to 7 years and is rapidly growing out of its facility. Future plans include both passenger and cargo terminal expansions.
EuroAirport handles about 90,000 take offs and landings each year on two runways. The longer primary runway handles the bulk of the traffic and has no aircraft size limitations. This 3,900 meter or 13,000 foot runway is also equipped with an instrument landing system. The shorter runway is less than half the length of the main runway and is not equipped with an instrument landing system. The airport maintains operations around the clock and has no noise limitations.
The airport provides a separate terminal for air cargo. This facility handles about 100,000 tons of airfreight each year from European, American, and Asian destinations.
The Ski season is big at EuroAirport with a number of airlines offering special seasonal flights during that period. In addition, the same snows that make ski season great can also lead to airport delays. For these reasons, travel through the airport may be delayed during the peak use season.