We are working harder to ensure a fully equipped digital airport

Air France is working with a newly digitised Charles de Gaulle Airport to ensure Paris remains one of the top gateway cities in Europe. SHALU CHANDRAN reports on the new S3 satellite of terminal 2E

Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Paris, is one of world’s largest aviation centres, as well as France’s main international airport.

In 2006, Charles de Gaulle Airport ranked second in Europe in terms of passenger traffic with 56,849,567 passengers , behind London Heathrow Airport (67,530,197), and above Frankfurt International Airport (52,810,683).
Out of this 31.8 million were Air France passengers, representing a 14 per cent increase in the span of two years. The Air France traffic share alone was 56.3 per cent as compared to 54.7 per cent in 2004.
In June 2007, the airport inaugurated the S3, the new boarding satellite of terminal 2E. The satellite terminal is part of CDG’s long-term ambitious plans for Air France.
This complex is dedicated to Air France and its SkyTeam alliance partners and is the first phase of a series of innovations to improve hub operations for Air France.
Other phases include the opening of to further phases of the entire boarding satellite, with a capacity to handle up to 8.5million passengers annually. The phase is expected to be complete by December. April will see the reopening of the terminal 2E. By the end of 2009, there will be 10 more gates in operation for long-haul aircraft and seven new gates for medium-haul, taking total passenger capacity to 8.5 million annually.
The T2G terminal, dedicated for Air France’s regional traffic will also be complete in 2008. This terminal will have the capacity to handle three million passengers annually.
Furthermore, the S4 terminal, a second boarding satellite for Terminal 2E is slated to be complete by 2012. The opening of this terminal will increase passenger handling by another 7.2 million annually.
Lastly, the TBE, new integrated baggage sorting system, equipped with 60km of conveyor belts will interconnect terminals 2E and 2F as well as the two new boarding satellites. The TBE system will be able to handle 15,600 items of baggage per hour.
With this new infrastructure in place, the handling capacity is expected to increase from 35 million passengers in 2005-06 to 43.5 million in 2008-2009.
At a recent international press conference held by Air France, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM and chairman of Air France commented, “Since 2004, we have maintained a high growth in spite of the unfortunate collapse of Terminal 2E. We are working harder today to ensure a fully equipped digital airport, giving passengers a choice to access services from their home, mobile phone or our new kiosks. The new satellite terminal will give passengers the freedom of travel making Charles de Gaulle Europe’s leading hub. Both Air France and KLM are pioneers in the European markets and this is not the end of the consolidation process. Europe needs big players and concentrated national routes.”
However there seem to be no plans for any merger with Alitalia.
“We have made no plans or have had no discussions regarding any merger with Alitalia. However, if Alitalia wants to speak, we will be listening carefully,” said Spinetta, who did not rule out mergers totally.
“We are looking at the potential with Iberia. Consolidation is an ongoing process. We have already proven the success of the Air France-KLM merger and today we can see other successful mergers in the industry like Lufthansa-Swiss. With Iberia, we plan to continue to pay attention and continue to study this process.”
Comfort is the key ingredient of the new satellite terminal. According to Pierre Henri Gourgeon, the deputy CEO of Air France-KLM and president and COO of Air France, “The next 12 months will see constant enhancement of comfort to increase and improve the Air France hub. With the new S3 terminal, we expect to see 53-73 per cent increase in gate flights. This will increase to 80 per cent with the completion of Terminal 2 in March 2008 and beyond that in 2012 there will be six gateparks in Terminal S3 for the A380’s and seven gate-parks in Terminal S4. Fluidity for the customers is our main concern.”
Flight punctuality is an important element for Air France customers. In addition to providing highly efficient logistics, Air France is confident that the 8,600 agents at the airport are continuing to play a vital role in the very high standard of service that customers receive.
On average, over 90,000 Air France customers transit daily through Paris-Charles de Gaulle, which means that close to 34,000 items of connecting baggage need to be handled. With the implementation of the TBE baggage sorting system, Air France will be able to handle 15,600 items of baggage every hour. It will be complemented by an additional baggage sorting module at the end of 2012.
In March, Air France inaugurated its new Hub Control Centre in a dedicated building. The 110 staff employed at this operations control centre aim to optimize flight punctuality and the successful coordination of connections through improved anticipation of potential difficulties, amongst other tasks. The hub CC oversees the centralized coordination of the various aircraft operations. It manages all the cross-functional resources: shuttle buses, assignment of aircraft parking stands, subcontractors and partners, etc. It also manages passenger and baggage flows, for e.g. by optimising aircraft movements for critical flight connections, and by monitoring passenger flows within the airport in cooperation with Aeroports de Paris and the Border Police.