Like all the Group’s airports, Paris-Orly had no choice but to doubt to an exceptional and unprecedented situation. This retrospective focuses on a very unusual year at France’s second largest airport.
◆Paris-Orly airport was completely closed to commercial flights from 31 March to 26 June 2020.
For the first time in its history, the airport ceased all commercial flights, which had already declined to below 20 per day with a daily average of 1,500 passengers, compared with the usual 80,000. With residual traffic now concentrated at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, some screens remained alive in Orly’s empty terminals, displaying the hopeful message: #BientôtRéunis (#SeeYouSoon).
Nevertheless, despite the fact that the airport was now little more than an aircraft parking lot, operations were not completely shut down, because it was being used as a hub for medevac flights and was still open to accommodate aircraft diversions and government flights. For the next two months, daytime at Paris-Orly was like what night had been pre-pandemic. Its vital functions of maintenance, security, safety, energy and air traffic control all remained up and running 24/7.
Just a few hours after commercial flights were halted and at the height of the first lockdown, the teams were on hand to ensure that all airport infrastructures were available for medevac flights transferring patients from hospitals in the Paris region to regional hospitals less inundated with pandemic patients. A tented field hospital was built to provide patient support in the event of delays between flights.
The 6 am Transavia flight to Porto marked the reopening of Orly 3 to commercial traffic. By the end of the month, daily movements had increased to between 50 and 70, with the airport handling 10,000 passengers per day on average.
As traffic continued to increase and the number of routes operated by Transavia, Vueling and Easyjet grew, it was the turn of Orly 4 to reopen.
Traffic resumed at Orly 1, only to decline once more, with the result that the terminal was closed again on the evening of 11 November.
Closed since 19 November, Orly 4 now reopened. On 16 December, it was followed by Orly 1B (closed since 11 November) ahead of the Christmas and
New Year period.
Another major year-end event was the completion of the new international passenger pathways at Orly 4, with the handover of a new boarding area for international traffic.