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Routes and organization

Routes and organization


France-Morocco-Algeria air routes

On 7 September 1918, just two months before the armistice that would mark the end of the first world war, Pierre-Georges Latécoère submitted to the French government his first plan for an airline linking France to Morocco, Senegal and South America. And on 25 December 1918, Latécoère Airlines (Lignes Aériennes Latécoère) inaugurated the Toulouse-Barcelona route. By 9 March 1919, the entire route from France to Morocco had been tested, and on 1 September 1919, regular services began.

1918: Sketch map by P-G Latécoère of proposed routes

From September to December 1919, the Toulouse-Casablanca service carried 9,124 airmail letters. During the corresponding period of 1926 - after seven years of technical progress and consequent publicity — the service carried over 2.4 million airmail items. Airmail was a public service subject to a surcharge that customers were happy to pay because of time saved, business benefits, and money earned, and that it was these arguments that ensured the airline’s success.

Sketch map of the Rabat-Oran route

And airmail really did save time compared with conventional mail. In those days, a letter from France to Morocco, going by sea, took five to seven days in summer and eight to eleven in winter. In contrast, an airmail letter from Toulouse to Casablanca took on average 36 hours in summer and 48 in winter, including the time taken for rail transport from the local post office to Toulouse.

With the advent of airmail, a letter posted in Paris before 5 pm would be in Morocco the next evening! By 1920, Latécoère was considering a similar service to Algeria. This was established in October 1922 via the Casablanca-Oran route. In 1923, the company explored, then inaugurated the Barcelona-Algiers route via Palma-de-Majorca. In May 1924, Latécoère Airlines launched the Alicante-Oran route, establishing an airmail link between Algeria and continental France via Barcelona and Alicante, Spain. Despite the large number of ships offering regular services between the two countries, airmail was still significantly faster. In July 1923, the company established a Marseille-Perpignan service, the last link in its France-Morocco-Algeria network, with the port of Marseille as its starting point.
Between January and December 1925, Latécoère airlines flew 2,360,494 km, carried 4,560 passengers, and transported 151,007 kg of airmail packages and 7,502,191 airmail letters.

Departure schedule (rough draft by P-G Latécoère)





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