‘French airports will be understaffed this summer,’ warn unions

Unions are warning that understaffing is likely to cause long delays at French airports over the summer, echoing problems seens at airports around Europe in recent weeks.

'French airports will be understaffed this summer,' warn unions
Travellers queue during Ascension weekend in the departure hall of Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam (Photo by Jeroen JUMELET / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT

“We should not be under any illusions, we will be understaffed to get through the summer. Clearly, there will be additional expectations at the controls and elsewhere,” warned Thomas Juin, president of the Union of French airports to Le Figaro

There have been chaotic scenes at airports around Europe in recent weeks, and unions warn that France is likely to face similar problems this summer.

In the Paris region, travellers at Charles de Gaulle were already reporting long queues at the beginning of May.

So far, Orly airport has not seen its capacities “overflowing” but it is already “under tension.” The airport’s director, Sandra Lignais, told Le Figaro, she is attempting to stay “vigilant” on the situation. 

Juin expects that at some airports in the Paris region, such as Beauvais, traffic will be “even higher than in 2019.”

The Paris region appears to be most impacted by longer than average wait times, with fewer complaints being registered in France’s regional airports. However, the shortage of airport staff is industry-wide, so it would still be recommendable to arrive early. 

Since 2020, French airports have lost “15 to 20 percent of their staff,” explained Juin. During the height of the pandemic, many airline workers were either let go, left the industry, or were given part-time work options.

National airline Air France cut almost 20 percent of its workforce during the pandemic – the equivalent to 7,500 jobs.

The Paris airports of Orly and Charles de Gaulle alone need to fill about 4,000 positions. However, the Airports of Paris group told BFM Business that they are experiencing “enormous” recruitment difficulties.

Several sectors – incuding tourism, hospitality, construction and healthcare – have warned about increasing staff shortages.

ANALYSIS: What is behind France’s worker shortage? 

Wait-times when going through customs is also an issue, as there has been a decrease in the number of border police present at the airports.

In addition to a shortage of candidates, training delays make it difficult to fill positions quickly, especially for people working in airport security jobs that require three to five months of on-the-job training. The summer also poses a challenging time to recruit, as many would-be workers have already scheduled holidays. 

France’s Charles de Gaulle airport still advises passengers to “be at the airport 2 hours before the departure of your flight in order to drop off your luggage and complete all police and security formalities.”

However, the airport’s website warns passengers to check their boarding pass as well, because they will indicate more specific boarding time instructions, “according to the busy periods at the airport.”

Several passengers on long-haul flights, including to the USA, told The Local that they had been instructed to be at the airport three-and-a-half hours in advance – and had needed all that time to get through security and boarding queues.

“I arrived 3 hours early and nearly didn’t make it,” one reader said. “The lines were confusing. A few stations seemed to be understaffed.” 

Over the Ascension weekend British airline Easyjey cancelled many flights, blaming IT problems.

Dutch airline KLM announced on May 26th that it would be suspending ticket sales for all flights out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport until Monday because of staff shortages.

Reuters reports that in recent weeks, lines from the Schiphol airport have been hours long, stretching all the way outdoors and onto the streets. Travellers from Stockholm, Dublin and Manchester airports have also reported long queues.

Rafael Schvartzman, the International Air Transport Association’s regional vice president for Europe, told Euronews that as of March, the aviation industry was already seeing 75 percent of its pre-pandemic passenger numbers, and that “this is a sign of what is to come for this summer,” predicting heavy traffic.  

What have your air travel experiences been like in recent weeks? Did you wait in any particularly long lines while departing from French airports? We would love to hear from you – please email [email protected]

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Olympics prep means travel trouble for Paris commuters this summer

A summer of discontent and delays is in store for anyone using the Metro or RER services in Paris, as the capital steps up preparations for next year's Olympics.

Olympics prep means travel trouble for Paris commuters this summer

Line closures and maintenance delays are routine in Paris in the summer, when passenger numbers are down because many people are away on holiday. But the amount of work is higher than normal this year, with improvements planned on almost every major line in and out of the capital.

Île-de-France Mobilités will announce all the disruptions for the coming summer later this month. However, the schedules for certain major routes, such as the RER A, B, C and Metro lines, are already known. 

Here’s what we know and what we don’t know about line closures in the coming weeks and months:


Line 4 

Closed between Vavin and Bagneux-Lucie-Aubrac stations from June 9th to 11th inclusive. 

Line 11 

Closed on the following Sundays: July 9th, July 30th and August 27th for work on the extension to Rosny-sous-Bois. As it has since February, the line will close at 10pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until the end of September. 

Line 14

No service between Mairie-de-Saint-Ouen and Olympiades, from July 29th to August 11th.


Europe’s busiest railway line will be closed from Nation and Val-de-Fontenay and Fontenay-sous-Bois stations from August 9th to 18th; and between Cergy-le-Haut and Conflans-Fin-d’Oise stations from August 5th to 20th.

RER B North

No trains Between Gare-du-Nord and Aulnay-sous-Bois on the weekends of June 3rd and 4th, and June 10th and 11th, in either direction.

The line will be closed between Gare-du-Nord and Mitry-Claye on August 12th, 13th and 14th. 

Between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Aéroport – Charles-de-Gaulle 2, a further closure is scheduled for the weekend of August 19th and 20th. 

On September 23rd and 24th, the section between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Mitry-Claye will not be served.

Replacement buses will be in operation, but users are warned to expect delays.

RER B South

Between Fontaine-Michalon and Massy-Palaiseau, from July 14th to July 21st, then from August 5th to August 20th, traffic will be halted to carry out modernisation work on the Chartres and Gallardon bridges. 

All trains will terminate at Fontaine-Michalon and Massy-Palaiseau. A replacement bus will serve Massy-Palaiseau, Massy-Verrières, Les Baconnets and Fontaine-Michalon stations.

From July 22nd to August 4th, traffic will be interrupted to allow completion of the Massy-Valenton-Ouest project between La Croix de Berny and Massy-Palaiseau, and to continue work on the Chartres and Gallardon bridges. 

All trains will terminate at La Croix-de-Berny and Massy-Palaiseau. A shuttle bus will serve the remaining stations.

The branch between Bourg-la-Reine and Robinson will be closed from July 22nd to August 25th inclusive. All trains will terminate at Bourg-la-Reine. Substitutions will be made at Bourg-la-Reine, Sceaux, Fontenay-aux-Roses and Robinson stations.


The Austerlitz – Javel – Henri-Martin section will be closed from July 15th to August 26th.

no trains will run between Massy and Pont-de-Rungis, either, during the replacement of the Gallardon rail bridge in Massy, and for the Massy southern rail bypass project.

Works to be confirmed

Dates for works on RER lines E, D and Transilien (lines H, K, L, N and P) have yet to be confirmed.


The driverless Orlyval shuttle service from Antony station to the airport, will be out of service on July 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th for maintenance work.