Air France reorganises at Paris CDG

3 Apr 2012 by BusinessTraveller

Paris Charles de Gaulle and Air France are revamping their operations in a bid to speed up connection times and make the airport Europe’s preferred hub.

The airport will open a €580 million Satellite 4 building at Terminal 2E by early July, to be used solely by Air France and its Skyteam partners for long-haul flights. By the end of the year, Terminal 2F will be reconfigured for Schengen destinations only.

Air France and Skyteam will therefore be migrating their activities to the east of the airport in terminals 2E, 2F and 2G.

The 7.8 million-capacity Satellite 4 will have 16 wide-body gates, seven of which will be able to accommodate the A380 superjumbo. It will “complete the ensemble formed by the boarding pier in terminal 2E and the ‘Galerie Parisienne’ (Satellite 3)” and be linked to 2E by the automated train that operates to satellite 3.

The added capacity means Terminal 2F will now be used only for Air France and Skyteam Schengen traffic. Passengers will be able to check in at any desk and a single security checkpoint will link it to 2E and its satellites. To view a map of the revamped terminal click here.

The new arrangement means that passengers coming from a Schengen country and connecting to an international destination will not need to go through security again. The airport said this would shorten travellers’ connecting time by ten minutes, although note that this will not be the case for a passenger doing the reverse journey (ie: connecting from an international destination to a Schengen country).

A 4,500 sqm “airside service area” for connecting passengers will also be opened in satellite 3, along with a 100-room hotel.

At the launch of the project last week – which the airport and airline have dubbed “Hub 2012” – Pierre Graff, chairman and chief executive of Aeroports de Paris, said: “Our aim is to make Paris Charles de Gaulle the favourite preferred hub for passengers. I am sure these changes will allow us to win the battle of European hubs and will be highly beneficial for our passengers.”

He said the works formed part of a total €2.4 billion investment between 2011 and 2015 “geared towards retaining our position as the leading airport in Europe”.

Alexandre de Juniac, chairman and chief executive of Air France, added: “A hub is an essential tool to organise our passengers’ travel. One in two of Air France passengers at CDG are connecting so it is very important to us.”

Business Traveller had a sneak preview of Satellite 4 under construction last week. The 770-metre long space is bright and airy with a high curved ceiling, a range of seating and a living wall. When complete, it will have more than 6,000 sqm of shops, restaurants and bars. A museum exhibiting artworks on loan from Paris galleries will be launched in the satellite building before the end of the year.

Air France’s largest business lounge, at more than 3,000 sqm, will also open in Satellite 4 by July. Located between the shops and the gates, the €13 million facility will seat 600 travellers and feature a “nature-inspired architectural concept”. It will offer “French gourmet cuisine”, a Clarins spa, free wifi, computers and showers.

Graff said the movement of Air France and Skyteam to the east of the airport meant CDG would be “closing down older facilities to improve them”. “We’ll not only be renovating but reorganising the airport,” he said. Some 35 airlines would need to shift as a result.

By 2013, Star Alliance will occupy Terminal 1, Oneworld carriers will operate out of Terminals 2A and 2C, and Easyjet will use 2C.

Meanwhile, Skyteam’s new Sky Priority programme has been introduced at the airport. Skyteam Elite Plus members, first and business class passengers of all member carriers, Air France premium economy flyers and platinum and gold Flying Blue members now benefit from dedicated check-in and baggage drop-off desks, priority security, boarding and baggage delivery, with fast-track lanes marked by red signage (travellers should “follow the red thread”). The programme is to be rolled out across more than 1,000 airports worldwide.

Paris CDG handled 61 million passengers last year. It offers more than 25,000 connections of less than two hours per week, which it says is the most in Europe. Air France and Skyteam comprised more than 60 per cent of traffic at the airport last year.

On the subject of Paris’s competition with Heathrow, Graff said: “Our four runways give us a competitive edge and we have capacity for future growth… Heathrow hasn’t really [solved] its capacity problem. It has continuous flights and is reaching the limits of its take-off and landing capacity [which it is dealing with] by increasing the size of planes. What it’s doing is finite. A company needs to know how it can grow, which CDG does.”

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Report by Michelle Mannion

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