Chambéry Airport (or ‘Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc Airport’ to give it its full name) has been building a reputation as a quicker and easier way to reach some of the big French resorts than flying in to Geneva. Most are around 100km/2 hours away, some as little as a 90 minute transfer.
It’s also much smaller, there’s plenty of parking by the terminal and its closer to many famous ski areas. Plus you also don’t need to negotiate often heavy congestion and a border crossing in Geneva – the roads around Chambéry are usually pretty quiet.
But it hasn’t all been good news for Chambéry, it was initially a victim of its own success, it’s only a few years since the airport welcomed its millionth passenger and most of its passengers are weekend skiers on charter flights. Traffic is concentrated on weekends with more than 50 commercial flights landing and over 13,000 travellers passing through the airport creating bottlenecks at times.
When a dozen of these planes packed with skiers landed in a short period at the airport – its check-in desks, cafes, toilets, immigration controls and baggage conveyors all struggled to cope.
The result was queues and grumpy skiers in the airport – even if they had got there more quickly from their resort than they would have through Geneva.
But things are changing for the better and 2016-17 ski season satisfaction surveys from passengers show happiness is on the up from visiting skiers passing through Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc Airport.
What’s changed is the start of a 10 million Euro investment over a period of 16 years, no less, by owners VINCI Airports.
The first improvements last season saw a revised queuing system, improved check-in facilities and a reorganised passport control and security flow.
This has had a direct effect on the number of skiers using Chambéry as part of their holiday with Crystal Ski Holidays, the largest customer for the airport. In fact the company brings well over 30,000 British skiers to the French Alps via Chambéry Savoie airport every year with up to 20 flights once a week from 15 regional UK airports including Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol and Dublin. Nearly half-a-million Crystal customers have used this route since 2004.
Crystal say that the number who scored their airport experience as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ is up 10% on the previous season …although they have not said what proportion of customers gave these highest ratings.
“We always strive to improve our customers’ experience and are delighted that reviewing our flying programme coupled with the work our partners at Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc Airport have done, has made a 10% change for the better,” said Nial McLean who is General Manager France, Switzerland and Andorra for Crystal Ski Holidays, “Together, we are now providing a good platform for a stress-free start and end to our customers’ ski holiday and will continue to improve even more in the next few years.”
For next winter season 2017/18 Crystal will add three new routes from the UK to Chambery from Doncaster, Exeter and Luton.