Paris reopened its most iconic airport terminal as France prepares to welcome millions of visitors for the 2024 Summer Olympics, while the travel industry struggles to recover from the fallout from the pandemic. Aeroports de Paris, which operates Charles de Gaulle airport, spent 250 million euros ($263 million) on works that lasted more than two years and created an additional 36,000 square meters of passenger space, told reporters at the scene on ADP Deputy CEO Edward Arkwright. the reopening ceremony on Saturday.
“It will allow us to get more passengers but also to improve travel experiences, quality of service, commercial income and operational performance”, he said, without giving more figures.
Charles de Gaulle received 76.2 million passengers in 2019, making it one of the the busiest centers in the world. The oldest terminal, number 1, opened in 1974 and is recognized for its futuristic design and circular concrete structure. The iconic central building, which allows passengers to move from one level to another thanks to escalators suspended from Plexiglas tubes, is surrounded by other satellite buildings.
The newly created passenger space is reminiscent of Parisian bistros or cabarets, with red and green sofas and chairs, tables decorated with chessboards, tall brass lights that look like fireworks, and smaller round lamps inspired by the circular shape of the terminal. The airport architects who worked on the redevelopment cited Ernest Hemingway’s book “A Moveble Feast,” set in the French capital in the 1920s, as their main source of inspiration. (Also read | Travel Trend: Why is Astro Tourism Growing Among Domestic Travelers in India?)
“People tend to see time spent in airports as a waste of time, but here we are in Paris,” Caroline Blanchet, ADP’s director of marketing, told reporters. Even transit passengers can get a taste of the city, she added.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Swiss International Airlines, Air India Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. are among the airlines that will return to Terminal 1 in the coming months. The terminal will receive some 10.2 million passengers a year, the company said.
Aeroports de Paris will consider adding solar panels at Charles de Gaulle airport, which until now has not been allowed by law, Arkwright said.
The terminal reopens at a time when airlines and airport operators face increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions. French Finance Minister Clement Beaune, who attended the opening ceremony on Saturday, said he is optimistic the industry will continue to prosper despite the challenges ahead.
“Airports and airplanes will not disappear,” he said. “It is crucial to have green projects in the run-up to the Olympics. Aircraft have a role to play in the climate transition and Paris airports are highly committed to achieving carbon neutrality.”
France has just won European Union approval to eliminate domestic flights for routes that can be covered by train in two and a half hours or less. The country may cut additional domestic flights to destinations further afield once the country’s efforts to bolster its rail network allow, Beaune said.
“Over time, we will be able to review and increase our green ambitions,” he said.
Passengers in France are also at risk of being stuck due to potential strikes over the year-end holidays later this month.
“We will do everything possible to avoid strikes in the holiday period,” Beaune said.
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