France abandons Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport expansion plans

The French government has abandoned it's plans to add a fourth terminal to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, the largest in the country, according to a report in Le Monde.

The government had intended to spend between €7bn and €9bn on expanding the airport’s capacity by 450 flights a day, and 40 million passengers a year, by 2037.

However, Barbara Pompili, France's environment minister, told the newspaper that increasing the airport’s capacity was incompatible with efforts to fight global warming. The fall in air traffic amid the pandemic was also cited.

Her decision comes a week after a court held the French government had failed to take sufficient measures to halt climate change, and a day after the government had presented its “climate and resilience” bill, which would effectively ban airport expansions that led to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Pompili said the government had asked Groupe ADP, formerly Aéroports de Paris, which owns a majority stake in Charles de Gaulle, to scrap the project and present one “more consistent with its objectives concerning climate change and the protection of the environment”.

Work on Terminal 4, first announced three years ago, was to have begun this year.

The decision was also influenced by the fall in air traffic caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has altered previous projections that global air traffic would increase from 4.1 billion passengers a year in 2017 to 8.2 billion in 2037.

Pompili commented: “We will still need airliners, but it’s a question of how we use them more rationally, and how we cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

The revised vision for Charles de Gaulle has three goals, according to the government's new thinking. It should improve the airport’s connection with the rail network, use geothermal energy to heat it and adapt its infrastructure to handle planes fuelled by hydrogen and electricity.

The government also plans to invest €1.5bn in the development of a carbon neutral aircraft by 2035.

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