Regional Airports and the Accessibility of Mountain Areas: Networks, Importance and Contribution to Development

Regional Airports and the Accessibility of Mountain Areas: Networks, Importance and Contribution to Development

X. Bernier

Laboratoire EDYTEM, CNRS, Université de Savoie, France

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This paper looks at the role and importance of regional airports in mountain areas. The question of accessibility is examined at different scales, from regional airports serving mountain areas to high-altitude aerodromes (altiports) and airstrips (altisurfaces) in mountain resorts. The ways in which air transport is integrated into intermodal transport systems serving tourist areas, most notably mountain resorts, are also investigated. Given the highly seasonal and specific nature of their use, many airports serving mountain areas are faced with problems of over-sizing or seasonal congestion. Issues such as the socio-economic and environmental integration of regional airports are also extremely important for mountain areas. Altiports and altisurfaces can contribute substantially to the tourism development of mountain regions by improving accessibility for visitors and through leisure aviation. Consequently, regional airports have a substantial impact on an area’s image, whether they are viewed positively, as an aid to development, or negatively, as harmful to the environment. The present analysis was based on several case studies that highlight different aspects of regional air transport in mountain areas. The specificities of regional airport development in the Alps, and particularly in France, are illustrated by the story of Air Alpes. Attention is also focused on the links between the United Kingdom and Chambéry and Grenoble airports, which are dominated by low-cost airlines. Looking at the larger picture, examples of mountain-periphery and extra-mountain airports in France, Switzerland and Nepal are examined in order to investigate the formation of networks, the importance of regional airports and their contribution to regional development.


accessibility, Alps, altiports, Himalaya, mountain, regional airports, transport networks, tourism


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