The human and technological epic of the POMA Group.

The history of POMA

The history of ropeway transport, from mountains to cities, around the world.


1st ski lift, L’Eclose in Alpe d’Huez (France)
By inventing the first surface lift, Jean Pomagalski, a young 29-year-old engineer, wrote one of the first pages of the epic tale of ropeway transport. The story that began in the French Alps continues today on all continents, through multiple applications. L’Eclose ski lift in Alpe d’Huez carried its first skiers over a distance of 215 metres, with an elevation difference of 64 metres. Since then, technology has made it possible to travel across kilometres and climb steep elevations, overcoming all obstacles on the ground.


1st patent for the ski lift
This first installation proved to be the first in a long line of inventions, all patented. The first patent for the invention, filed by Jean Pomagalski on 6 March, 1936, was titled “Device for progressive starting of a load driven by a cable moving at constant speed.”


2nd patent for the fastening system for detachable-type surface lifts.
Entitled “Improvements to traction or cable transport devices using endless cable”, this patent describes the system of detachable fasteners based on the over-centre locking of a bushing on the cable.


Creation of the company Pomagalski
In the wake of the Second World War, and after playing an active role in the French Resistance, Jean Pomagalski created the company that bears his name.


The first factory in Fontaine
His company, based in Fontaine (Isère), employed around fifteen people. At that time, most of the parts were manufactured and assembled at the factory. The fasteners were melted on site, in a forge located outside the building. The surface lifts were shipped as kits, along with bolts for their assembly. A new factory was to be built in 1958.


New, more efficient systems
Business grew, and up to 120 surface lifts were produced per year. Jean Pomagalski and his team of engineers embarked on the construction of more complex ropeway systems: chairlifts and cabriolet lifts. The first chairlift was installed in Brévents (France). It was a single-seat device.


New POMA factory
A new factory was built to ramp up production capacity. In preparation for the Grenoble Olympic Games, the company acquired a large design office, testing facilities and extensive workshops equipped with modern machines where drive stations for chairlifts and frames for surface lift stations were pre-assembled.


Installation of the first chairlifts on American soil
Quickly, the first chairlifts were installed in Colorado, Vermont and Alaska. As recognition grew, Jean Pomagalski chose to use his family name POMA, with which he associated the technical term “lift”. Even today, in North America it is common to use the term “pomalift” to refer to a chairlift!


First “telenautic” prototype
Installed on the Annecy and Bourget lakes (France), the telenautic prototypes rotated at a speed of 25 metres per second.


Oscar for best export company
“The main reason for our growth in foreign markets is the dynamism of our company, its desire to remain at the forefront of technical progress,” Jean Pomagalski told the French Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Wilfrid Baumgartner, when he received this honorary distinction.


Delivery of the first two-seater chairlift to the Bossons glacier (France)
A few days before the one built simultaneously in Combe des Juments in Clusaz (France), the first POMA two-seater chairlift was delivered to the Bossons glacier in Chamonix (France).


First POMA tourist transport in the West Indies
This 4-seater chairlift with baskets was a unique specimen built specially for the Saint-Thomas site in the West Indies.


Gold medal at the Lépine competition and French Legion of Honour.
Many inventions for the safety of ropeway fitters and users were developed, including a rescue system, the Diabolo descender, which won the gold medal at the Lépine competition and the gold medal at the Brussels International Inventors’ Fair the following year. Many inventions for the safety of ropeway fitters and users were developed, including a rescue system, the Diabolo descender, which won the gold medal at the Lépine competition and the gold medal at the Brussels International Inventors’ Fair the following year.


The cabin chairlift, the forerunner of the gondola lift
The “cabin chairlift”, tested here by an employee and Jean Pomagalski’s son, consisted of a Plexiglas cockpit and a polyester shell; the legs were protected by a sleeve that could be lifted up. Only 200 specimens were produced.


The first POMA gondola lifts
The first POMA gondola lifts were delivered simultaneously to Val d’Isère (France) and Queenstown (New Zealand). The following year, the Chalmazel (France) gondola lift was inaugurated, equipped with an automatic door-closing mechanism. To develop this ropeway system, POMA had approached SIGMA Plastics, a manufacturer of cabins and thermoformed parts. The famous SP4 egg designed by Francis Tauzin was thus born, combining technical performance and an unforgettable design, which would be quickly adopted by ski resorts on all mountain ranges.


The first POMA logo
Alphonse Lisa, an industrial designer, created the acronym POMA. The same year, he used it as inspiration for the design of the Delta station, honoured by the French Institute of Industrial Aesthetics, then the Alpha station in 1982.


Gaston Cathiard, the industrialist of peaks
A mountain lover, Gaston Cathiard succeeded the founder at the head of the company. He is the one who, for the first time, suggested replacing the old generation of lattice towers with tubular steel towers. As here on the Verdons gondola lift built in 1969 in Courchevel 1850 (France).
Mécano-soudure SACMI
Soudure Poulie SACMI
Soudure Poulie SACMI


SACMI joins the POMA Group
SACMI, founded in 1960, joined the Group, becoming the expert in the manufacturing of mechanically-welded parts and pre-assembly of components for POMA ropeway transport systems.


The chairlift becomes detachable
The first detachable chairlift was installed in Pralognan-la-Vanoise (France). The following year, the first European three-seater fixed-grip chairlift was built in Lanslevillard (France). Its resolutely modern station was to leave its mark on everyone’s minds.


The first 6-seater gondola lift in the world
The first 6-seater gondola lift in the world was inaugurated in Villard-de-lans (France). Its transport capacity reached 2,000 people per hour. These gondola lifts benefited from the most significant technical progress made: synchronisation of gondola and starter cable speeds, automation of main and garage tracks, automatic door opening, increased capacity.


The six-seater cabins win the “Form and industry” label
The French institute of industrial aesthetics awarded POMA its label, in the “Form and industry” category, for its six-seater cabins and its suspension. A year earlier, the Delta station had received an award for its refined structure.


POMA’s international expansion
Jean-Pierre Cathiard was hired by his father to orchestrate POMA’s international development. He deployed a remarkable network of subsidiaries and exclusive agents. At a result, POMA signed the construction contract for prestigious installations and grand world premières.


More modern tools for POMA
The company acquired its first computers and developed programs to design and manufacture ropeways: mathematical model for calculating and installing lines, material resistance calculations, production management circuit, etc. The company had entered the industrial era.


The first bi-cable ropeway: “Les bulles” in Grenoble
An emblem of the city of Grenoble, POMA’s birthplace, the Bastille tourist ropeway was completed in record time. It was the first pulsed bi-cable ropeway built by POMA, on which the “bubbles” are connected.


POMA asserts its rank as world leader in ropeway transport
The number, variety and geographic deployment of its ropeway systems bear witness to its leadership on the French and international market: 3,500 surface lifts, 300 chairlifts and 80 gondola lifts served ski slopes in 39 countries, in all latitudes. To meet the demands of this growth, POMA’s facilities covered 25,000 sq.m, including 14,000 sq.m of factory.


Longest gondola lift in the world in Iran at the time
This gondola lift with 3 sections covering 7.5 kilometres, with an elevation difference of 2,000 metres, was the longest in the world at the time.
Cabine historique POMA
site industriel SIGMA
montage de cabine sigma
cabine historique POMA SIGMA
site industriel usine SIGMA


SIGMA joins the POMA group
SIGMA, expert in the design, manufacture and final assembly of vehicles dedicated to passenger transport, established in 1961, joined the POMA Group. Today, more than 2,000 vehicles are produced in SIGMA workshops each year.


Jean-Pierre Cathiard takes over the management of POMA
Gaston Cathiard handed over the reins of his business to his son, Jean-Pierre. One year after being awarded the Oscar for exceptional export performance, Gaston Cathiard received the Knight’s Cross of the Legion of Honour. In 1979, half of turnover was generated abroad. The spirit of international conquest that animated Jean Pomagalski is still very much alive within the SME!
BACO télécabine Suisse


BACO, POMA Group’s Swiss commercial subsidiary
In 1977, during the construction of the first 6-seater gondola lift in Switzerland, BACO joined forces with POMA, before becoming a subsidiary of the POMA Group in 1981.
COMAG heliportage
COMAG montage de gare


COMAG joins the POMA Group
COMAG, the assembly, inspection and maintenance expert, established in 1977, joined the POMA Group. Each year, more than 150 operations were carried out on 5 continents.


POMA’s 1st APM
The first Automatic People Mover was installed in France, in Laon. It was also the first urban ropeway transport system. Built on the site of an old rack tramway, it has since been dismantled.


Sharing the ropeway culture
POMA Formation became a certified organisation and its team of experts began organising training courses around the world with a single objective: transfer skills to operators in the best conditions.


Construction of the Cime Caron ropeway
The product offer expands further. Even as POMA started producing its first giant ropeways, like the one in Cime Caron, many new products rolled off the production lines: small surface lifts for beginners, new Alpha station installed in workshops. Thanks to this melting pot of innovations, POMA grew its business in new markets on the other side of the Atlantic and in Asia.


Spectacular international development
The first chairlift was installed in Japan in 1985, while the tallest towers in the world (109 m) were built in the United States on each bank of the Mississippi ,for a temporary gondola lift built to serve the international exhibition in New Orleans. The following year, the first urban ropeway was built in Algeria, and two years later, in 1986, a gondola lift flew over the Great Wall of China. POMA shines internationally


Largest ropeway in the world installed in Courchevel (France)
The Saulire gondolas in Courchevel (France) transport 160 passengers at an altitude of 2,699 metres in less than 4 minutes. That same year, the first 10-seater gondola lift with a spectacular capacity of 2,600 people per hour was built in Megève, at Mont d’Arbois (France), along with the detachable cable car of the Deux Alpes, the Jandri Express (France).


POMA celebrates its 50th anniversary
POMA published a brochure to mark its fiftieth anniversary. Its cover featured the work of the painter Samivel and the preface was signed by the writer Frison-Roche.


POMA acquired a new site in Voreppe (France)
Finding itself cramped on its Fontaine site, POMA acquired 6 hectares of land on the Centr’Alp site in Voreppe, also near Grenoble. Senior management, commercial services, logistics and quality management relocated there in 1992.


Highest funicular in France for the glacier of Les 2 Alpes
POMA built the Dôme Express, in a 1.7 km tunnel dug under the glacier, under an ice layer of up to 80 m in places. An amazing feat!
photo historique de SEMER
Opérateur SEMER


SEMER joins the POMA Group
SEMER is an expert in electrical equipment engineering and in the production of industrial automation, established in 1979. The company joined the POMA Group in 1991.


The first inclined elevators
After the acquisition of Skirail in 1987, POMA joined forces with OTIS. The POMA-OTIS joint venture produces automatic shuttles towed by cables and inclined elevators over short distances.


The world’s first 16-seater gondola lift
Built in the Pyrenees-Orientales, in Les Angles (France), the first 16-seater gondola lift had a capacity of 3,000 people per hour.
LPOA POMA site industriel


Creation of LPOA, POMA’s US subsidiary
In 2000, the American subsidiaries of POMA and LEITNER come together to create LEITNER POMA OF AMERICA. LPOA leverages its experience and know-how to build installations in the United States and Canada, as well as Australia and New Zealand. LPOA also provides local service in these regions for ropeway transport installations.


POMA joins the HTI Group
By joining the Italian group led by Michael Seeber, POMA strengthened its international ambitions and its R&D capacities by pooling know-how and expertise. Like POMA, this industrial holding company is active in the construction, tourism and ropeway sectors.


The Vanoise Express ropeway, a feat of engineering
This structure gave rise to the large Paradiski ski area. It was the largest ropeway in the world at the time it was built. The gondolas of this giant ropeway accommodate passengers on two decks. A feat of engineering because, for the first time in the world, the rescue system was directly integrated into the gondola carriage
télécabine touristique POMA Beijing
télécabine touristique POMA Beijing
télécabine touristique POMA Beijing
télécabine POMA Beijing


Creation of POMA Beijing
POMA installs its first gondola lift in China in 1987 on the Great Wall. In 1994, POMA opened an office to support the construction of a second tourist ropeway system in Badaling. This paved the way for a significant development of activities in the country. To facilitate interactions, the POMA Beijing subsidiary was created in 2007, bringing together all the commercial, assembly and service activities for China.


POMA flies over New York
The city of New York entrusted POMA with the construction of its new aerial tramway, connecting Roosevelt Island to the island of Manhattan. Ultra efficient, it has an optimal availability rate of more than 99.8% for 20 hours of daily operation.


Crossing the Volga by gondola lift
This urban gondola lift allows residents of Nizhny Novgorod to reach the industrial city of Bor on the other bank in 6 minutes. A transport option which makes commuting easier for the residents, particularly when the bus network is completely paralysed by snow in the depths of winter. Two of the 92-metre towers frame an exceptional cable span of 900 metres above the river.
télécabine touristique Egypte


POMA Egypt operates the Cairo APM
POMA EGYPT was created in 2012 to manage operations and maintenance of the Cairo Airport APM. Today, POMA EGYPT supports the development of POMA in Africa and the Middle East, thanks to its technical experience in complex environments and its knowledge of the region.


1st “clean room” funicular in the world
The clean room APM, called “Liaison Blanc-Blanc”, unique in the world, links two ISO 6 laboratories of the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission) in Grenoble. The funicular train is waterproof, equipped with an airlock with a “clean air” shower, and moves under a controlled atmosphere. It can transport up to 12 researchers between the two laboratories, and is fully automated, like an elevator.


Development of DirectDrive®
This gearless drive system is an innovation that has all the advantages of a virtuous engine. The Group innovates to enhance user comfort, by working on reducing noise and preserving the environment. Result? Energy consumption reduced by 8% and noise by 15 decibels. A major advantage for cities and ski areas that are keen to combine eco-responsibility and user well-being.
équipe POMA Colombia


Creation of POMA Colombia
POMA’s history in LATAM began in the 1960s in the ski areas of the Andes, and entered a new chapter with the creation of line K of the Medellin Metro in 2004, the start of a strong and enduring partnership in Colombia. In 2013, POMA created its subsidiary and established itself for the long term in Colombia to ensure close customer ties in Latin America.


Pomagalski becomes POMA
On July 17, 2014, Pomagalski changed its name and became POMA
téléphérique urbain POMA ETAC
simulateur 3D Upilot POMA ETAC
télécabine urbaine POMA ETAC
télécabine urbaine POMA ETAC


ETAC was created to operate and maintain devices in Algeria
Joint-venture between POMA and the Algerian government to create the Algerian ropeway transport company. ETAC is in charge of the whole of Algeria, for the operation and maintenance of aerial transport installations. This represents fifteen devices in six cities across the country (Algiers, Tlemcen, Blida, Constantine, Skikda, Annaba).


Eco-construction, a strong commitment from POMA
The Eco-construction programme brings together and deploys a set of technical solutions intended to limit the environmental impact of operations, at all sites. It includes in particular techniques for the pre-assembly of stations or shell assembly.


Launch of the Symphony cabin
Designed by Pininfarina, the Symphony cabin gives priority to design and passenger comfort. Its dimensions offer greater freedom of movement and allow better accessibility to the vehicle. Premium options, such as larger, heated individual leather seats also improve passenger comfort. Finally, the panoramic glazing offers a unique vantage point to admire the most beautiful landscapes of the mountain or the city.
télécabine POMA LLC Russie
télécabine POMA LLC Russie
télécabine POMA LLC Russie


Creation of the POMA LLC subsidiary in Russia
POMA LLC offers ropeway transport solutions adapted to the specificities of the countries of the Russian Federation and CIS countries. The Russian subsidiary notably built the Nijni Novgorod urban gondola lift and continues to support the development of ski resorts in the North Caucasus.


2016 HERMES Innovation Prize, in the “Improvement of life in the city” category.
This award of excellence recognises POMA’s innovations in improving urban life through the development of urban ropeway transport solutions and devices.
télécabine touristique POMA Korea
télésiège POMA Korea
télécabine touristique POMA Korea


Creation of the POMA Korea subsidiary
POMA set up its subsidiary in South Korea in January 2017 in Seoul to provide a local service to operator customers in Southeast Asia. POMA has been present in Korea for more than 35 years, in particular to support the development of mountain activities, and the country currently has more than 60 POMA devices. POMA Korea then adapted to the high demand for tourist devices, supporting remarkable installations such as Sacheon, Mokpo and Uljin.
télécabine touristique POMA vietnam
télécabine touristique POMA vietnam
télécabine touristique POMA vietnam


Creation of the POMA Vietnam subsidiary
POMA Vietnam provides services for installations in the region. The subsidiary is also involved in the development of new projects in Vietnam, Taiwan and Myanmar.


UPILOT®, the first digital training tool for ropeway transport
Creation of the digital training platform which uses a 3D gondola lift simulator to provide learners with interactive e-learning modules and assessment tools. Thus, UPILOT® makes it possible to transfer skills and know-how in security and availability.


POMA inaugurates its new industrial site at the foot of the Alps
The Group’s largest factory, the Gilly-sur-Isère site, reinforces the expertise of the company’s three other industrial sites, all located in France. It brings together SACMI (which manages the manufacture of mechanically-welded assemblies and the assembly of mechanical components), COMAG (which manages the installation and maintenance of devices), an assembly unit for POMA Leitwind wind turbines and a general logistics platform.


The Santo Domingo urban ropeway system is inaugurated
The first public ropeway transport system in the Caribbean, the “Teleférico” connects its centre and the Northeast zone, by flying over the Ozama River twice. Directly linked to the metro, and deployed over 5 km, it offers high performance to promote soft and sustainable mobility. With this new installation, POMA makes ropeway transport an essential component of intermodality in tomorrow’s cities.


The SmartBOARD control station
In Châtel, the Pierre Longue chairlift is the first in France to be equipped with the SmartBOARD. This new-generation operating console developed by SEMER offers an ergonomic and user-friendly human-machine interface and better control while optimising space in the control rooms.


The year of the funicular
In 2019, 19 funicular trains were produced (new and renovations) in the SIGMA workshops. The remarkable growth of this activity stems from a flexible organisation and unique technical expertise.


HTI Digital launches its Skadii solution
With “Skadii”, HTI Digital presents an open management platform to manage ski areas more efficiently. Whether it is the operation of ropeway systems, snowmaking facilities, snow grooming machines or the general management of a ski area, the platform links all relevant operational data via an intuitive user interface.


Launch of the POMA Foundation
Reflecting the human dimension of the POMA Group, POMA created its Foundation in 2020 in order to give a coherent direction to all the initiatives undertaken. It supports projects in Sport, Solidarity and the Environment, in accordance with the values and convictions that POMA has always defended.


A world first for an exceptional device: Three TD ropeway systems in Zhuhai
In Zhuhai (China) near Macao, POMA built three interconnected detachable ropeway systems using tri-cable technology (TD) in a huge leisure complex. Equipped with Symphony cabins, this 4.5 km installation, one of a kind, helps meet the grandiose ambitions of the complex, which attracts 8.5 million visitors.


A POMA cabin at the Elysée Palace
The Symphony cabin represents the Isère department, alongside 100 selected French companies, at the Great “Made in France” Exhibition held in January 2020. In addition to enhancing unique know-how and French creativity, the importance of promoting responsible consumption is also at the centre of this initiative.


World’s largest observation wheel in Dubai
POMA participated in the construction of the largest observation wheel in the world, which culminates at a height of 250 m and offers a panoramic view of the Dubai landscape. The turnkey contract won by POMA included the design, supply, construction and installation of the 48 capsules of the Ain Dubai wheel.


Expansion of the Gilly-sur-Isère site
POMA constructed 6,000 sq.m of additional industrial buildings on its Gilly-sur-Isère site in order to develop the activities of SACMI and COMAG. As a result, the Group is able to respond to the sharp increase in its activities all over the world, while considerably reducing transport in the manufacturing chain.

The uses of ropeway transport CORE ACTIVITIES

POMA ropeway transport systems are tried-and-tested and appreciated in towns and cities, peri-urban areas, valleys, ski areas, amusement parks, natural areas, tourist sites and in industry with tailor-made solutions, where they provide unique comfort onboard exceptional carriers.