A pioneer since 1929
Reunion Island’s aeronautical history started right here at Gillot, when the first plane landed on the island back in 1929. Today, the site is home to France’s 11th largest airport in terms of passenger numbers. It bears the name of Roland Garros, Reunion's aviation pioneer and First World War hero.
The airport is the main gateway to and from the island. It has expanded and modernised along with Reunion Island, and for the islanders it represents a place which is full of emotional greetings and farewells, the island’s link to Mainland France and the rest of the world.
The first plane
The aviator Marcel Goulette accomplished the first air link between metropolitan France and Reunion Island on 26th November 1929. His Farman landed in a field in the hamlet of Gillot, especially prepared for the occasion. From 1933, the site was used by the Roland Garros flying club.
The first runway
After the Second World War, flights to and from the island became more organised. The Gillot land became Reunion Island’s airport and a 1 870 m asphalt runway was built.
The first terminal
The first terminal was built near the sea, in the outskirts of the Maperine quarter.
The Chamber of Commerce airport operator
The government entrusted the running of the airport to the island’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Air traffic developed between metropolitan France and Reunion Island, via Madagascar.
The first Boeing
The runway was extended to 2 670 m to allow the landing of four-engined aircraft. The first Air France B 707 landed at Gillot, whose terminal was expanded.
The airport facilities were moved to the south of the runway. The current terminal was built, as well as a cargo terminal and a complex of technical buildings.
Creation of Air Austral
The Reunion Island company offered medium-haul flights over the Indian Ocean, as well as long-haul flights to metropolitan France from 2003.
Creation of Reunion Air Assistance
The airport ground services company works with all the airline companies and supplements the services offered by Air France.
The long runway
A second runway was created. 3 200 m long, it allowed aircraft to take off fully loaded and to fly non-stop to metropolitan France. For its inauguration, on 26th November, the terminal was renamed “Aéroport de Reunion Island Roland Garros” in tribute to the pioneering aviator who was born on Reunion Island.
Extension of the passenger terminal
After five years of work, the terminal’s surface area has increased from 11,500 m2 on 3 levels to more than 26,500 m2 on 5 levels.
New cargo terminal
A new cargo terminal was built on the eastern section of the airport.
Creation of a regular flight between Reunion Island and Asia (Bangkok) operated by Air Austral, firstly through a code sharing agreement with Air Madagascar then under its own brand from 2011.
The A 380
An Airbus A 380 landed at Reunion Island Roland Garros Airport on 11th November 2009 on a test flight.
The S.A. Aeroport de Reunion Island
Reunion Island Roland Garros Airport concession was transferred to an airport company made up of the State, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and local authorities. For the first time the airport exceeded the threshold of two million passengers in 2011. Its activity has been growing regularly since the end of the 1980s with the development of competition on the metropolitan France-Reunion Island route, the main component of the traffic.
New visual identity
Creation and launch of the new visual identity for Reunion Island Roland Garros Airport
The passenger Terminal eastern extension
Start of work on the passenger terminal eastern extension
Runways and taxiways
Work began to reinforce and expand runways and taxiways
Power plant construction
New backup power plant construction works started west of the airport
Airport Company ISO 14001 (Environnement Management) ans ISO 50001 (Energy Management) certified. ISO 9001 certification renewed and extensed to the Freight Terminal
Runway and taxiway
Final completion of runway and taxiway reinforcement and shoulder broadening works
Opening of the passenger Terminal eastern
Opening of the passenger Terminal eastern extension and delivery of the phase I of the program of investments 2001-2015
Roland Garros Airport became the France’s first overseas airport to receive the safety certification set by the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Arrestor bed fitted at the end of the longest runway
Installation of an arrestor bed at point 30 of the airport’s longest runway, supplied by the Swedish company Runway Safe. Roland Garros became the first European Airport to adopt this system in order to comply with regulations.
Opening of the new passenger flow for departures
Roland Garros Airport opened a new and more comfortable flow system for departing passengers, including new areas for retail and service activities. This new flow was inaugurated on 2nd November 2017 and included escalator and staircase access to level 2 and the opening ‘kiss and fly’ room accessible to passengers and their loved ones.
Renewal of the triple ISO certification
Renewal of the ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environment) and ISO 50001 (Energy) certifications following an audit carried out by AFNOR (French Standardization Association) from 8th to 17th November, 2017.
Record number of passengers: 2,400,000
Reunion’s Roland Garros Airport broke its record for passenger numbers on 28th December 2018, with 2,400,000 passengers.
Airport Carbon Accreditation
Reunion’s Roland Garros Airport was awarded the Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 2, certifying to a reduction in CO² emissions over the previous years.
Commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the 1firsdt flight between Mainland France and Reunion.
On 26th November 2019, the whole airport community celebrated alongside the people of Reunion Island to mark the 90th anniversary of the first flight from Mainland France to Reunion by the Goulette-Machesseau-Bourgeois crew on the FARMAN F-AJJB.
Creation of Aérotech Run OI
Creation of an association called Aerotech Run OI, project leader in structuring the aeronautical sector in Reunion and developing a regional cluster of activities dedicated to training, maintenance and innovation.