The end of 2018 coincided with the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Latécoère airline, from Toulouse to Barcelona.
Christmas 1918. It’s the first time in years that the French are celebrating Christmas in peacetime. Yet what we’ll remember of that day isn’t the turkey served on tables across the country, which was still reeling after four years of conflict. Because in Toulouse, a 35-year-old man is about to write a new chapter in the history of aviation. His name: Pierre-Georges Latécoère. He had already served the country by building shells and Salmson 2A2 aircraft for the French army. His plan? To lift off from the “Pink city” and open a freight and mail airline. On that December 25, 1918, his first flight connected Toulouse with the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona. In the years that followed, the Latécoère airline pushed all the way to Senegal, some 4,000 kilometers from France.
Before being sold in 1927 to Marcel Bouilloux-Lafont (who would name it Compagnie Générale d’Aéropostale, or “Aéropostale”), Latécoère airlines would welcome aviation legends in the making, such as Jean Mermoz and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. As for the Latécoère company, it would live on and build aircraft (some 15 bear the company’s name), especially seaplanes. Today, Latécoère Group designs structural elements for the leading world aircraft manufacturers, including Dassault-Aviation.