Charles de Gaulle: Plans for huge new airport terminal in Paris scrapped

3 weeks ago
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An Air France Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner prepares to depart from Charles De Gaulle International Airport (CDG) on November 19, 2020

AFP

The French government has abandoned plans to build a huge new terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

The coronavirus pandemic and changing environmental priorities were the reasons given for the move.

A fourth terminal would have allowed the airport to handle up to 40 million extra passengers a year.

France has radically changed its transport priorities, with airport developments now requiring plans for electric or hydrogen-fuelled planes.

Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili told Le Monde newspaper that the project was now “obsolete”.

“We will always need planes, but we must move towards a more reasonable use of air travel, and reach a reduction in the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Julien Bayou, head of France’s Green Party, said it was “a great victory for environmentalists” against what he called “an idiotic project”.

Charles de Gaulle airport, which opened in 1974, is the second busiest airport in Europe after London Heathrow, with more than 76 million passengers passing through in 2019.

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Analysis box by Hugh Schofield, Paris correspondent

‘Airport within an airport’ scrapped

First announced three years ago and with building work set to begin in the months ahead, Terminal 4 was described as an airport within an airport – the equivalent of putting Paris’s second airport Orly inside Charles de Gaulle.

By the end of the 2030s it was projected to handle 450 extra flights at the airport every day.

But since approval, two things have happened.

First, in order to respect carbon emission targets, the government now says any airport development must accommodate electric and hydrogen-fuelled planes of the future.

The second change is Covid. With air traffic today just a quarter of its pre-crisis levels, mammoth expansion schemes like Terminal 4 appear distinctly irrelevant.

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