PARIS WEATHER

Back to the skies as Paris’s Orly airport reopens after three-month shutdown

Issued on: 26/06/2020 – 07:21Modified: 26/06/2020 – 07:21

The first flight took off from Orly airport south of Paris at 6:25am Friday, marking a reopening after shutting down on March 31 due to the coronavirus crisis, but with just a fraction of its normal flights. 

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A Transavia plane bound for the Portuguese city of Porto was sprayed by water cannons from the airport fire brigade vehicles in a so-called “water salute” ceremony before taking off.

The reopened airport is serving only around 25 destinations via 70 takeoffs and landings, compared with 600 a day before the virus crisis grounded aircraft worldwide.

Airlines including Air France, Transavia, easyJet, Vueling and Air Caraïbes account for most of the traffic at Orly, flying to the Caribbean, Reunion Island, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Croatia, among others.

Around 8,000 passengers are expected to pass through Orly’s four terminals on Friday, less than 10 percent of the daily average of around 90,000.

Increased traffic in July will depend on whether Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia reopen their borders.

“We are facing an extremely brutal and long crisis, and we are bracing for a resumption that will be somewhat long, if not extremely long,” Alain Battisti, head of France’s national federation of commercial aviation (Fnam) said Tuesday.

New safety measures

As part of new safety measures, Orly’s operator Aéroports de Paris (ADP) has installed 137 Plexiglass screens at counters and 150 sanitiser dispensers, along with more than 7,000 posters and stickers to ensure social distancing.

Staff also used thermal cameras to check the temperatures of passengers.

Others dressed in protective white suits and masks sprayed disinfectant on surfaces like automatic check-in screens.

Almost all the stores at Orly 3 were to open on Friday, apart from a few exceptions such as a self-service sweet shop.

Orly is the French capital’s second-largest hub after Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) north of Paris. Charles de Gaulle remained open throughout the country’s Covid-19 lockdown, though traffic collapsed by almost 98 percent in the month of May.

SH: Residents dread loss of lockdown peace

The hundreds of thousands of people who live under the French capital’s air corridors said they dreaded the end of three months of peaceful nights, a “paradise” where they recalled birds singing instead of roaring jet engines.

Luc Offenstein, a retired commuter train driver who had campaigned to curb air traffic noise, said the area had got used to a new way of life.

Residents near Orly have fared better than those at Charles de Gaulle because they benefit from a curfew on flights between 11:30pm and 6am.

Orly is the French capital’s second-largest hub after Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) north of Paris. Charles de Gaulle remained open throughout the country’s Covid-19 lockdown, though traffic collapsed by almost 98 percent in the month of May.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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