In 1942, when Mauritius was a Crown colony, the government decided to build a small airport at Plaine Magnien near Mahébourg. The airport was used to import products from the United Kingdom and its colonies, as well as for exports. The airport was used as a military base for the Royal Air Force during World War II. The operations of the civil airport started just after the Second World War which gave a boost to the Mauritian economy.
The airport we can see in the image began construction in 1960 and was inaugurated in 1961. At the time it was an iconic place and building for many mauritians both for departures and arrivals. The airport structure allowed visitors to climb on the top of the building to have a view on the airfield as well as a traditional way of waving goodbye to departures. A wonderful souvenirs for many.
The first flight to Rodrigues island was made on 10 September 1972, an Air Mauritius flight from Plaisance airport to the Plaine Corail Airport (now Sir Gaëtan Duval Airport) at Rodrigues. The ATR 25 and ATR 45 were used at this time.
Later in 1986, infrastructure works were undertaken to accommodate larger aircraft. Thus, a new terminal was built including aerobridges to meet the expected increase in traffic growth, and a car park attached to the new building and customs service for international routes. The new terminal consisted of two floors and could accommodate up to four aircraft simultaneously via aerobridges.
A new passenger terminal was inaugurated on 30 August 2013, and became fully operational in September 2013. The structure of the New Airport Terminal is designed after the “Traveller’s palm”, a tropical plant that grows on Mauritius. It is connected to the existing terminal (scheduled for refurbishment beginning in 2014) and has a capacity of 4 million passengers.