EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is an international airport near Basel (Switzerland), Mulhouse (France), and Freiburg (Germany). It is located in France, on the administrative territory of the commune of Saint-Louis near the Swiss and German borders. It handled 4,270,000 passengers in 2007.
The airport building itself is split into two separate halves, one half serving the French side (today considered the "Schengen" side) and the other half serving the Swiss side; there is a customs point at the middle of the terminal building so that people can "cross the border" to the other side of the airport. The "finger dock" which provides access to the aircraft is in a joint international zone into which all passengers on "international" flights emigrate before they board the plane.
The Geneva Cointrin International Airport can also be accessed from both countries, with distinct French and Swiss customs zones, but no international zone.
Due to its unique international status, EuroAirport has three IATA airport codes: BSL (Basel) is the Swiss code, MLH (Mulhouse) is the French code and EAP (EuroAirport) is the international code. The ICAO airport code is LFSB.
This three code status often results in some effects - including price differences between fares offered to or from one airport code or the other, and tickets which are built of 'connections' and therefore 'non-stop'. For example, an Air France flight from MLH - CDG may be cheaper than one from BSL - CDG; and the flight from BSL - CDG will actually be ticketed as with a 'stop-over' in MLH, then consisting of two legs, a non-existent BSL - MLH one, and a flown MLH - CDG one.
Some airlines only operate check-in desks on one half of the airport, for instance easyJet on the Swiss side and Air Berlin on the French side. In order to check in, an easyJet passenger coming from France and travelling to Spain has to cross to the Swiss side, and an Air Berlin passenger coming from Basel city has to cross to the French side. The easyJet flight is "International", the Air Berlin flight is an EU internal flight, passengers use the domestic area and cannot buy from the Duty-free shop.
Plans for the construction of a joint Swiss-French airport started in the 1930s, but were stopped by the Second World War.
In 1946, talks were re-opened and it was agreed that an airport would be built at Blotzheim, north of the city. France would provide the land, and Switzerland (Kanton Basel-City) would provide the construction costs. The Basel "Grosser Rat" (state Parliament) agreed to pay the costs for a provisional airport even before the international treaty was signed (which was not signed until 1949). Construction began on March 8, 1946 and a provisional airport with a runway was officially opened on May 8 in the same year.
Between autumn 1951 and spring 1953, the east-west runway was extended to and the "Zollfreistrasse" (sealed road) was constructed allowing access from Basel to the departure terminal without passing through French border controls.
The first enlargement project was approved by referendum in Basel in 1960, over the following decades the terminals and runways were continually extended. The north-south runway was extended further to in 1972. In 1984, a total of 1 million passengers annually was reached.
In 1987, the official name was changed to "Euro-Airport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg". In 1992, the total of 2 million passengers was reached, and in 1998 3 million. The decision was made to enlarge the terminals again with a new Y-finger dock, the first phase was completed in 2002, the second phase in 2005.
The airline Crossair was based at Basel and was the largest airline. Following the Swissair bankruptcy in 2001, and the transformation of Crossair into Swiss International Air Lines, the number of flights from Basel fell and the new terminal was initially underused. In 2004 the low cost carrier easyJet opened a base at Basel and the passenger totals rose again, reaching 4 million in 2006.
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