Paris’ main international airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG), will be closing two runways within the next few days. According to reports, this is being done to provide additional parking space for grounded aircraft during the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement will affect runways 08R/26L and the parallel 08L/26R starting on 23 March.
Not the actual runways
Today a NOTAM was issued for Paris’ largest airport which states runways 08R/26L and the parallel 08L/26R will be shut starting on 23 March. A NOTAM is short for “notice to airmen”, which is a notice filed with an aviation authority alerting pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect flight safety. The NOTAM also adds that this policy will be in effect until 28 May.
Groupe Aéroports de Paris (Groupe ADP) clarified with Simple Flying that the runways will not, in fact, be used for parking aircraft. They said that parking aircraft on runways would not be good for runway integrity. Therefore, only taxiways and aprons/parking stands are used for parking aircraft.
As the airport has a total of four runways, it is left with two that are still operational for aircraft take-off and landing. In fact, the two closed runways are located on the airport’s southern side. The runways remaining open are 09R/27L and 09L/27R, situated on the northern side.
On the other side of the city, Paris Orly airport will be shutting down one of its runways. According to FlightGlobal, this will be the shorter runway, 02/20. This closure will be in effect from 18 March to 18 April.
Airport open – with certain terminal closures
FlightGlobal also adds that both Parisian airports will remain open. However, select terminals will be closed due to the drastic decrease in air travel. According to Al Arabiya, ADP could close one of the three terminals at the airport. The main purpose of this is to cut costs. The terminal being eyed for closure is the airport’s Terminal 3 – normally dedicated to low-cost carriers. Reports suggest that it may close other terminals if needed.
The pandemic’s impact on France
While not as extreme as Italy or neighboring Spain, France ranks high on the list of infected countries. In fact, at the time of writing, it reports over 9,000 cases of infection with nearly 300 deaths.
France has imposed a national lockdown to contain the outbreak. However, its national airline, Air France, is still working to repatriate European nationals. The airline is cooperating with government officials and foreign embassies to operate a number of repatriation flights to bring home stranded citizens. A statement made by the airline indicates that it will also maintain regional service:
“To guarantee a regional service vital to the country’s economy, Air France – in co-operation with state departments – will continue to operate most of its mainland France network services on departure from Paris,” -Air France statement
The airline says it will have a reduced network that includes the following:
- 17 domestic destinations
- 14 European cities
- five in the Americas
- five in Africa
- one in Asia
This week, more than any before, has seen a number of countries shut down their borders to non-citizens and non-essential travel. Along with this, airlines around the world have drastically cut their services – both to discourage non-essential travel and at the same time adapt to the large drop in demand.
As a result, airline call centers have been overwhelmed with inquiries as travelers make attempts to reschedule flights or make alternate arrangements to get home from their travels.