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View from the cockpit

Release date:
July 2023
Montage of Maryline Haize-Hagron, director of Caen-Carpiquet and Deauville-Normandie in France
Maryline Haize-Hagron, director of Caen-Carpiquet and Deauville-Normandie in France, on working her way up to the top, juggling the responsibility of managing two airports and commemorating D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.


You currently manage both Caen-Carpiquet and Deauville-Normandie airports in northern France, did you set out to work in the airport sector?

I started working at Caen 35 years ago, when I was recruited as a trainee. Back then it was still very much a male dominated industry, but step by step I have built my way up managing various teams, before being made operations manager, then director of Caen Airport in 2010. I was made director of Deauville in 2016. I also currently serve as a director of the Union of French airports and vice president in charge of communications at Normandie AeroEspace.

I am pleased to see that diversity is improving and there are more women working in the industry now, compared to when I started out.


How do the two airports complement each other?

They are two quite different hubs in terms of the traffic they each serve. Caen caters primarily for domestic air traffic serving destinations in southern France including Marseille, Montpellier, Nice, Toulouse and Corsica. Meanwhile, in terms of scheduled commercial flights Deauville serves classic holiday destinations such as Greece, Spain, Crete, Italy. The region surrounding the airports is also a hub for the tech industry and pharmaceutical companies, so both hubs have strong links with their respective chambers of commerce and are integral to socio-economic growth in northern France. They are also both popular and convenient hubs for business and general aviation traffic. Deauville is often referred to as the St Tropez of northern France as it is a bustling coastal town, with plenty of luxe shopping options and polo is a popular pastime here. Caen is also a popular gateway for Americans wanting to visit the D-Day landing beaches, military cemeteries and memorials.


What are air traffic movements like currently at both airports?

Both airports were badly hit during the global pandemic. Deauville lost 95% of its passenger traffic. In 2019 the airport welcomed 140,000 passengers and that figure dropped right down to 14,000 at its lowest point. However, we are seeing that traffic recover now and in 2022 we welcomed around 75,000 passengers. Caen suffered less during the pandemic as most of the flights are domestic so scheduled traffic wasn’t as badly affected by travel restrictions. In 2022 we served just over 300,000 passengers, a similar figure to the number served in 2019.


What is your plan for both airports going forward?

We are keen to expand our destination network at both airports and plan to launch new routes next year and are also upgrading the terminal infrastructure. We are currently revamping the terminal at Deauville and are on track to open the first phase in early January 2024. The terminal will reflect the surrounding landscape with lots of light, bright spaces and natural materials such as wood used inside the building. We are also planning to upgrade the terminal at Caen, which should be complete in three years.


Why are Caen and Deauville convenient hubs for business and general aviation customers?

In Caen, private aviation customers can make use of the VIP lounge in the main terminal, or they can benefit from direct tarmac access to their aircraft. Once the new terminal is complete in Deauville, customers will also be able to benefit from both a VIP lounge and direct tarmac access.


How are you embracing sustainability at both airports?

We are working with Air bp as our fuel supplier as we would like to offer sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at both Caen and Deauville, but it is not available yet. We have also achieved Level 2 on the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. In line with this we are converting all our ground vehicles to electric vehicles and have electric passenger bridges and LED lighting throughout the terminals.


Safe, reliable fuelling aside, how do you benefit from your relationship with Air bp?

We enjoy a truly collaborative partnership with Air bp as the sole fuel supplier at both airports and have done so for the last 40 years. The relationship is based on trust and extends well beyond the supply of fuel. The team is on hand to support us with technical issues and after sales and we regularly communicate with each other.


In June, you marked the 79th anniversary of D-Day anniversary and the Battle of Normandy, what did this entail?

We were honoured to take part in the commemorations paying tribute to those who lost their lives here during WWII. On 6 June we had various dignitaries from countries around the world visiting our two airports, including the French president Monsieur Macron, the US secretary of defence and the heads of the British and French military. We also had vintage aircraft on display at Caen and a brilliant aerobatic display from the Patrouille de France. At Deauville we welcomed a special flight with Delta Airlines from Atlanta with 45 WWII veterans. It was an emotional day, but at the same time uplifting and inspiring. Next year will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and preparations are already underway to mark this milestone.


Finally, what is it that you love about working in the airport sector?

Working in an airport is about being part of a team, a small community even and working closely with colleagues. I really enjoy building those relationships. This is also a magical industry to be in and one that is transitioning to a more sustainable sector. There are so many emerging technologies that are changing the way we travel and transforming airports. But it’s also about providing the best possible customer experience and being part of that journey, whether it’s passengers travelling for business, leisure or WWII veterans marking a momentous occasion.


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