The history of the airport in Mauritius is priceless.The airstrip was a racecourse track alongside the beach and the first plane arrived by sea! SSR international airport is now an award winning first class airport.
The first plane arrived on a ship! The aircraft was a World War 1 British biplane. After some flips over the island the plane was dismantled and shipped back to the UK.
Biplane - first flight over Mauritius
The 'airport' was a racecourse used as a landing strip alongside the beach at Mon Choisy in the North. The first regional flight made headlines as you can imagine. The hero of the day was Mr Maurice Samat who flew his plane from nearby Reunion island with his friend and co pilot Mr Paul Lemerle.
There is a memorial to commemorate this historic landing at Mon Choisy. Two planes were used to carry mail between Mauritius and Reunion island.
Monument to commemorate first landing
I should call it an expedition rather than a flight. The voyage took ten days from Paris to Mauritius with stops in Tunisia, Egypt, Djibouti and Madagascar. Sounds very romantic. Most probably with some camel riding in the desert as well. Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind ...
Let's keep in mind Mauritius was a British colony and the island is in a strategic location in the Indian Ocean. We are talking about World War 2 and the need for an airport for the Royal Air Force. At first the British used hydroplanes for reconnaissance flights.
The spot they chose to build the airport was Mahebourg in the South East and Mon Choisy 'airstrip' is abandoned.
The first plane to land at Plaisance was a Dakota from the Royal Air Force. In those days most flights carried mail and hardly any passengers.
The start of a weekly flight from Madagascar to Mauritius via Reunion by the Reseau des Lignes Aeriennes Francaises which became Air France.
They were the first commercial flights using Junkers 52 capable of carrying 15 passengers and a crew of 3.
They were operated by Air France using the Douglas DC4 which took two days with six stops to reach Plaisance airport in Mauritius.
First Qantas plane landed at Mauritius airport on its way from Sydney to South Africa. The Lockheed Constellation flight took 2 days with two stops.
They were operated by BOAC the previous name for British Airways. The journey took 25 hours with four stops. Flying time was reduced to seventeen hours when the De Havilland Comet 4 was used on the route.
De Havilland Comet 4
They were Air India flights from Bombay now called Mumbai.
Our national carrier is born. Air Mauritius starts operating as a ground handling agent for other airlines.
Air Mauritius first flights to nearby Reunion Island and Rodrigues. A year later Air Mauritius starts a Mauritius / London flight via Nairobi.
Air Mauritius Boeing 707
Good bye Plaisance welcome SSR Mauritius Airport. Our airport is renamed after the father of our nation, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam or SSR for short.
The upgrade is necessary to accommodate the increasing number of visitors.
From 15 000 passengers in 1968 to over 3 million in 2016. 200 private jets land at the airport in Mauritius every year.
Mauritius airport has won many awards since the construction of the new terminal 2. She is a real beauty in the shape of the traveller’s palm tree designed by Aeroports de Paris. The steel and glass structure is in line with the ‘Maurice ile durable concept’, plus the use of solar energy, rainwater recovery systems and green spaces.
SSR international airport
The new 57 000 m² terminal is the largest structure on the island. The airport is now able to handle over 4 million passengers a year. 140 000 tonnes of steel were used for its construction which is one and half times the weight of the Eiffel Tower.
The World Airport Awards featured the airport in Mauritius in their top 10 airport ratings in the following categories:
The Airports of Mauritius Co.Ltd (AML) is the owner and licensed aerodrome operator at SSR International Airport. They are a public company that started its operations in 1999.
The Airport Terminal Operations Limited (ATOL) is responsible for the operation of the new terminal.
SSR International Airport, Plaine Magnien, Mauritius
Airport IATA code (3 letter code): MRU
Phone number with international code: (230) 603 8000
GPS: 20°25’48”S 57°40’59”E
ICAO code: FIMP
Runway length: 3361m