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View from the cockpit

Release date:
October 2022
Damien Terruel and Cannes Mandelieu Airport montage
Cannes Mandelieu Airport’s operations manager, Damien Terruel, discusses the resilience of business aviation, decarbonizing airport operations and why the airport has introduced a flock of sheep.


What does your working day look like?


In my current role as airport operations manager, I am primarily responsible for managing the fuel activities at the airport and also for managing the airport security. No two days are ever the same at Cannes Mandelieu and there’s never a dull moment. So far in 2022 we have seen strong recovery following the global pandemic and we have a positive outlook for the rest of the year and going in to 2023.


Did you set out to pursue a career within the airport community?


I trained originally as an aeronautical technician and started out working in aircraft maintenance. Then I joined Le Castellet Airport – a small regional hub in France where I was involved in the construction of a new private jet terminal at the airport. Just over 10 years ago in 2011 I joined the team at Cannes Mandelieu. The latter is part of the Côte d’Azur Airport group, which also operates Nice Côte D’Azur and Golfe de St-Tropez airports. The group ranks second in Europe in terms of business aviation traffic. The move to Cannes represented an exciting challenge for me in terms of a career opportunity. It’s a popular hub for business aviation and as a gateway to the French Riviera it offers a convenient base for major cultural and sporting events including the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix.


What sort of air traffic does Cannes Mandelieu cater for?


We currently have around 70,000 air traffic movements per year, comprised of light aircraft used for flight training, as well as business jets and helicopters. We also have forest firefighting and search and rescue air teams from local authorities based at the airport. Business aviation certainly proved its resilience throughout COVID-19 and as a result of the pandemic we have seen a shift in consumer behaviour. Some customers who would previously have flown business class with commercial airlines are now realising the benefits of business aviation in terms of health and wellbeing, as well as convenience and speed when travelling through the airport.


Are there any restrictions on aircraft using the airport?


To comply with noise pollution restrictions the maximum take-off weight for any aircraft is 35 tonnes. We have also banned some of the noisiest planes. The airport has two runways, the longest of which is 1,610m.


How are you embracing sustainable growth at the airport?


We are committed to decarbonizing our operations in line with the Côte d’Azur Airport group’s focus on sustainable growth. Cannes Mandelieu has already achieved carbon neutrality on the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme. We are now working towards achieving net zero emissions by 2030. Although we haven’t received a supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at the airport yet, we are working towards this with Air bp. Elsewhere within our operations we are continuing to invest in electric ground support equipment, such as aircraft tow tractors, passenger and staff vehicles and we even have a flock of sheep that we use to eat the grass rather than using diesel or petrol-powered mowers. Last year in collaboration with the flight schools at Cannes Mandelieu we also served as a base for test flights of the world’s first certified electric powered aircraft - the Pipistrel Velis Electro. The imminent next step is to have a hybrid refuelling truck from Air bp, which will help reduce the share of emissions in our ramp operations.


How do you benefit from your relationship with Air bp?


Our collaboration with Air bp as the sole fuel supplier at the airport is integral to our day-to-day operations. The contract, which we renewed with Air bp in 2020, is the foundation of our collaboration, but the close working partnership we have is what really matters. Strong communication has always been key to that, but we also benefit from the level of technical support we receive in terms of fuel supply and services, as well as the shared vision we have for safe, secure, sustainable operations.


Air bp recently supported Cannes Mandelieu when it participated in the French Aviation Festival, can you tell us more?


The festival, which ran from 23-25 September, was supported by airports and other stakeholders across France. It was a brilliant three days with more than 50 ‘aero villages’ taking part across the country. The purpose was to raise awareness among young people and the local community about our operations, the type of aircraft we cater for, the different job opportunities available within the airport and how we are embracing sustainability. Air bp hosted a stand and provided information and resources on SAF. It was really encouraging to see so many people engaging with the future of fuelling and asking about SAF, its benefits and how it’s made.


Why is Cannes Mandelieu such a popular hub for business aviation?


We pride ourselves on the quality of our service and we really try and tailor the experience to meet the needs of individual customers. The airport is also conveniently located to access everything that the Côte d’Azur has to offer, whether it’s for leisure or business and whether it’s fuelling, cleaning or processing passengers we aim to do so as discreetly and as quickly as possible. In addition, safety and security is at the core of everything we do and something our customers can recognise and appreciate. That’s why we truly value the partnerships we have with companies who share our vision such as Air bp.


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