Serving Three Cities: The Story Of EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg

It is not uncommon for airports to serve two cities. Leeds Bradford Airport in Yorkshire, UK, is just one example of this, with Minneapolis-Saint Paul International in the US being another. However, an airport that serves three cities is a rarer phenomenon, particularly when the three cities are in different countries. Nonetheless, this has been done in Europe.

EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Getty
The airport is located in France, but jointly run with Switzerland. Photo: Getty Images

Three key markets

As the facility’s name suggests, the airport serves the cities of Basel (Switzerland), Mulhouse (France), and Freiburg (Germany). It is located in France’s Alsace region, which borders both Switzerland and Germany. The closest of the three cities it serves is Basel, at just 6 km (3.7 miles) by road from the city center. Mulhouse is around 27km (16.8 miles) away.

Freiburg is the most distant of the cities served by the EuroAirport. Indeed, to travel there by road requires a journey of around 71 km (44 miles) by road. The German city does have a small airport of its own, but this is presently only used for general aviation.

Both French and Swiss authorities operate most aspects of the airport, although CNN notes that the French police are entirely responsible for its security. This means that, depending on where you are in the terminal, cafés and shops may take either Euros or Swiss Francs.

EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg
The airport has two runways of contrasting lengths. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

How the airport came to be

The idea of a multinational airport in the French-Swiss border region actually dates back before the Second World War, to the 1930s. However, the onset of the conflict meant that such plans had to be put on ice at the end of the decade and into the 1940s.

Discussions regarding the facility’s development were able to restart in 1946, a year after the war ended. The Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt agreed to cover its construction costs, while France provided the land for the new airport. Having opened with a 1,200-meter long runway in May that year, the airport extended this landing strip to 1,600 meters by 1953.

Since then, the airport has also seen the construction of a second runway. This north-south strip (15/33) runs perpendicular to the original east-west runway (08/26). In 1972, it was extended to reach an impressive 3,900 meters long. 1987 saw the facility take on the EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg name, and it hit 2 million annual passengers in 1992.

easyJet Switzerland
The airport is one of easyJet Switzerland’s two main hubs. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

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EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg today

In the 2010s, the airport enjoyed consistent growth. Passenger numbers peaked at an impressive 9.09 million in 2019, during which Amsterdam Schiphol was its most popular destination. Of course, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic impacted traffic, and the figure dropped below 3 million in 2020. This saw Pristina, Kosovo become its busiest route.

EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg is presently a hub for both easyJet Switzerland and Corendon Airlines. The former of these serves a diverse point-to-point short-haul network, while the latter focuses primarily on seasonal leisure traffic. The airport also sees limited long-haul cargo traffic, serving intercontinental destinations like Doha and Seoul.

Did you know about EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg? Perhaps you’ve even visited this tri-city airport? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.