The French government announced Thursday that it wants to scrap plans to expand Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. The Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, said that the project, which called for the construction of a fourth terminal by 2037, was “obsolete” and did not correspond to the government’s objectives of fighting climate change.
Plan not in alignment with environmental goals
The plan was for airport operator ADP, of which the government owns a majority stake, to expand Charles de Gaulle‘s capacity by 40 million passengers per year through the addition of a new terminal. This would have meant an increase of over 50% of its current capacity.
In 2019, the airport welcomed 76.2 million passengers, making it the second busiest in Europe after London’s Heathrow. The cost of the project was estimated to land between €7 billion and €9 billion ($7.5-$10.9 billion).
However, Pompili told Le Monde that the government had asked ADP to abandon the plan and develop a new one. The revised plan, it said, should be in alignment with its environmental policies and the needs of a rapidly changing sector and future, greener aircraft.
“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,” Pompili said in the statement.
ADP, which also manages Paris-Orly, said it had taken note of the government’s request, which it added was also influenced by the COVID-19 crisis.
“Groupe ADP is engaging in a period of reflection on the airport’s future concerns,” Augustin de Romanet, chairman and CEO of the airport operator, said. He added that the Paris CDG airport wants to become “a leader in green aviation.”
Climate and resilience
One day prior, February 10th, a bill called “Climate and Resilience” was presented to the government. If Parliament passes it, it will prohibit any airport expansion from 2022 onwards if it results in a net increase, after compensation, in greenhouse gas emissions.
It will also forbid airlines from operating domestic flights between destinations where a train connection is available in under two and a half hours.
Plans for Grand Ouest also never came to fruition
This is not the first time in recent years environmental concerns have halted airport construction plans in France. In January 2018, the government announced that it would abandon plans to build an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a small village in western France, after heavy protests from environmentalists.
The airport would have been called the Grand Ouest Airport and was meant to replace Nantes Atlantique Airport as the main airport for Nantes and become an international gateway to the area. Nothing so grand as a 40 million passenger terminal, the project would still have cost €580 million and served four million passengers upon opening, growing to nine million by 2050.