Paris’ Orly airport set to reopen as airlines restart flights

Paris' Orly airport set to reopen as airlines restart flights
Staff at Orly airport prepare for the reopening on Friday. Photo: AFP
Orly airport south of Paris is to reopen on Friday after shutting down on March 31st amid the coronavirus pandemic, but with just a fraction of its normal flights.

A plane to Porto, Portugal is scheduled to take off at 6am, and around 25 destinations are to be served via 70 takeoffs and landings, compared with 600 a day before the virus crisis grounded aircraft worldwide.

Airlines including Air France, Transavia, easyJet, Vueling and Air Caraïbes account for most of the traffic at Orly, flying to the Caribbean, Reunion Island, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Croatia, among others.

On Friday, officials expect around 8,000 passengers to pass through Orly's four terminals, less than 10 percent of the daily average of around 90,000.

Increased traffic in July will depend on whether Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia reopen their borders.

“We are facing an extremely brutal and long crisis, and we are bracing for a resumption that will be somewhat long, if not extremely long,” Alain Battisti, head of France's national federation of commercial aviation (Fnam) said on Tuesday.

France reopened its borders to travel from within Europe on June 15th and most European countries have done likewise, although some – including the UK – have extra border restrictions including quarantines and health checks.

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All non-essential travel into France from outside Europe is still banned.

The European Commission is working on a plan to reopen the bloc's external borders from July 1st – but only for countries where the virus situation is under control. A  leaked document suggested that travellers from the USA, India and Russia could remain banned.

The final decision on borders stays with each country, but France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has previously said that the country supports the EU's proposal.

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