© Collection Air France

70 years of strong links between Air France and the West Indies

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In July 1947, the Latécoère 631 flew for the first time from Metropolitan France to the West Indies.

Excluded from air travel for a long time, the West Indies were now part of the Air France network.

In 1935, Air France sent its Latécoère 521, "Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris" to Fort de France in Martinique, for a special flight. But it was not until July 1947, that an aircraft - the Latécoère 631 "Henri Guillaumet" - connected Metropolitan France to the West Indies. From Biscarosse, in the Landes, the "Laté" served Fort de France in 30 hours, twice a month. The route was complemented by a local network: Catalina aircraft flew between Martinique (Fort de France), Guadeloupe (Pointe à Pitre), Trinidad, French Guiana (Cayenne) Venezuela and Colombia.

The era of seaplanes was soon over. In the 1950s, the West Indies built real airports - Le Lamentin (now called "Aimé Césaire" airport) in Fort de France; Le Raizet ("Guadeloupe Pôle Caraïbes") in Pointe à Pitre - capable of accommodating the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-4.

Destination West Indies-French Guiana

With the advent of the jets in 1959, transatlantic flights took just 8 hours! Thanks to the increase in capacity, 500 passengers on a Boeing 747, traffic literally took off, boosted by the tourism boom. This increased from 80,000 passengers in 1970 to 850,000 in 1987! Since then, the success of the Caribbean routes has never ceased. More than 1.5 million people travel annually with Air France between Metropolitan France and the West Indies.
Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana are each served by a daily direct flight to and from Paris, by Boeing 777.

 



Hydravion Laté 631 "Henri Guillaumet" © Collection Air France. DR

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