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Charles de Gaulle International Airport

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle), also known as Roissy Airport (or just Roissy in French), in the Paris area, is one of the world's principal aviation centres, as well as France's main international airport. It is named after Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), leader of the Free French Forces and founder of the French Fifth Republic. It is located within portions of several communes, including Roissy, 25 km to the north-east of Paris.

In 2007, Charles de Gaulle Airport was number one in terms of aircraft movements in Europe with 552,721 landings and take-offs, above Frankfurt (492,569) and Madrid (483,284). In terms of cargo traffic, Charles de Gaulle Airport was also number one in Europe with 2,297,896 tonnes (2,532,970 US tons), just above Frankfurt (2,169,025 tonnes), and above Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (1,651,385 tonnes) and Heathrow (1,395,909 tonnes). In terms of passenger traffic, Charles de Gaulle Airport ranked second in Europe with 59,919,383 passengers, behind London's Heathrow Airport (68,068,554), and above Frankfurt (54,161,856) and Madrid (52,143,275).


Charles de Gaulle Airport extends over 32.38 km² (12.5 square miles) of land. The choice of this vast area was made based on the limited number of potential relocations and expropriations and the possibility to further expand the airport in the future. It straddles three départements and six communes:

Management of the airport is solely under the authority of Aéroports de Paris, which also manages Orly Airport, Le Bourget Airport, and several smaller airports in the suburbs of Paris.


The planning and construction phase of what was known then as Aéroport de Paris Nord (Paris North Airport) began in 1966. On March 8, 1974, the airport, renamed Charles de Gaulle International Airport, began service. Terminal 1 was built to an avant-garde design of a ten-floor high circular building surrounded by seven satellite buildings each with four gates. The main architect was Paul Andreu, who was also in charge of the extensions during the following decades.

The grassy lands on which the airport is located are notorious for rabbits and hares, which can be seen by aeroplane passengers at certain times of the day. The airport organizes periodic hunts and captures to keep the population to manageable levels.

Corporate identity

The Frutiger typeface was commissioned for use in the airport, and implemented on signs throughout the building in 1975. Initially called Roissy, it was renamed for its designer Adrian Frutiger.

Until 2005, every P.A. announcement made at Terminal 1 was preceded by a distinctive chime, nicknamed "Indicatif Roissy" and composed by Bernard Parmegiani in 1971. (Audio sample) The chime can be heard in the Roman Polanski film Frantic.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri

On 26 August 1988, Mehran Karimi Nasseri found himself held at Charles de Gaulle airport by immigration. He claimed he was a refugee, but had had his refugee papers stolen. After years of bureaucratic wrangling, it was concluded that Nasseri had entered the airport legally and could not be expelled from its walls; but since he had no papers, there was no country to deport him to either, leaving him in residential limbo. Nasseri continued to live within the confines of the airport until 2006, even though French authorities had since made it possible for him to leave if he so wished . He was the inspiration for the 2004 film The Terminal. In July 2006 he was hospitalised and later taken care of by charities; he did not return to the airport. His present whereabouts are unknown.

Collapse of Terminal 2E

Terminal 2E, with a daring design and wide open spaces, was CDG's newest addition. On 23 May, 2004, not long after its inauguration, a portion of Terminal 2E's ceiling collapsed early in the day, near Gate E50, killing four people. The Chinese government reported that two of the dead were Chinese travellers, and another of the dead was reported to be of Czech nationality. Three other people were injured in the collapse. Terminal 2E had been inaugurated in 2003 after some delays in construction and was designed by Paul Andreu. Administrative and judicial enquiries were started. Andreu also designed Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, which collapsed while under construction on September 28, 2004.

Before this accident, ADP had been planning for a public stock offering in 2005 with the new terminal as a major attraction for investors. The partial collapse and indefinite closing of the terminal just before the beginning of summer could seriously hurt the airport's business plan.

In February 2005, the results from the administrative inquiry were published. The experts pointed out that there was no single fault, but rather a number of causes for the collapse, in a design that had little margin for safety. The enquiry found the concrete vaulted roof was not resilient enough and had been pierced by metallic pillars, and some openings weakened the structure. Sources close to the enquiry also disclosed that the whole building chain had worked as close to the limits as possible, so as to reduce costs. Paul Andreu denounced the building companies for having not correctly prepared the reinforced concrete.

On March 17, 2005, ADP decided to tear down and rebuild the whole part of Terminal 2E (the "jetty") of which a section had collapsed, at a cost of approximately €100 million . The reconstruction will replace the innovative concrete tube style of the jetty with a more traditional steel and glass structure. During reconstruction, two temporary departure lounges have been constructed in the vicinity of the terminal that replicate the capacity of 2E before the collapse. The terminal reopened completely on March 30 2008.



Charles de Gaulle International Airport has three terminals. Terminal 1 is the oldest. Terminal 2 was built for Air France, but now hosts other airlines. The third terminal (T3, formerly T9) hosts charter and low cost airlines.

Terminal 1 has a single main building for check-in and baggage reclaim with 7 satellites for arrivals and departures. Each satellite can handle about 5 aircraft at any given time. Underground walkways with moving sidewalks connect the satellites to the main building. Terminal 1 was built to an avant-garde design which is maintained today even though interior sections of the building have been face lifted and modernized.

Terminal 2 today consists of multiple terminals joined together by at ground or below ground passageways. The six terminals consist of 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F. Terminal 2 also has an RER and TGV station underneath in the middle of all the halls. Passengers may reach trains going to Paris or to other French and foreign cities by going through passages and moving walkways.

In 2006, the French government expressed the wish to designate certain terminals of French airports as "high-security" terminals that would handle flights to sensitive locations, such as the US and Israel. Terminal 2E is planned to be the high security terminal at CDG with the installation of more rigorous security controls planned during the course of 2007. At the start of the Winter timetable in 2006, Air France moved most of its flights to the US to 2E.

The RER station for Terminal 1 is quite distant from Terminal 1, and this terminal must, in fact, be reached using the free CDGVAL automatic light rail system (VAL); previously, shuttle buses were used. Started on April 4 2007, CDGVAL links all the three terminals, though as there is only a single station for Terminal 2, passengers have to walk long distances from the CDGVAL station to the more distant halls such as 2B.

Expansion plans 2007-2012

Apart from the reconstruction of Terminal 2E, two major terminal extensions are underway as of 2008.

The completion of giant 750-m long Satellite 3 (or S3) to the immediate East of Terminals 2E and 2F provides further jetways for large capacity airliners, and specifically the Airbus A380. Check-in and baggage handling are provided by the existing infrastructure in Terminals 2E and 2F. Satellite 3, which construction could be seen by arriving passengers at Terminals 2E and 2F, was opened in part in June 27, 2007 and fully operational in September 2007. A similar in size and scope Satellite 4 is planned to open in 2012 to provide additional capacity, again relying on the brand new, 100% automated check-in and baggage handling infrastructure of 2E and 2F. This facility, built in collaboration with Air France-KLM, is so large (it's the second largest airline terminal in Europe after Madrid Barajas' T4 and before BA T5 at London Heathrow) it needed to open in phases in order to be fully operational by the end of Summer 2007. The high tech, futuristic concrete-steel-and-glass building provides relief to millions of passengers who do not have to endure anymore annoying and lengthy bus rides to board and disembark from flights. The new S3 terminal also means faster transfer times to connecting flights and fewer lost bags.

Construction began on a new terminal building, Terminal 2G, to the east of the S3 construction site in September 2006 with the first stone of the new building itself laid in March 2007. It will be connected to the Terminal 2 complex by shuttle buses and eventually an extension of the CDGVAL shuttle train service due to open in Spring 2007. 2G will be a Schengen terminal (and thus have no customs control) and will handle Air France regional and European traffic and provide small capacity planes (up to 150 passengers) with a faster turn-around time than is currently possible by enabling them to park close to the new terminal building and boarding passengers primarily by bus. Opening is planned for the Winter season of 2008.

Future use of Terminal 2 by Air France constantly evolves thanks to the development and opening of the S3 complex and the new 2G section of Terminal 2. On March 30 2008, the reopening of Terminal2E was completed allowing maximum passenger activity and full airport services. Air France has begun to shift traffic to use at full capacity Terminals 2C,2D,2E and 2F and eventually shall cease operations from terminals 2A and 2B which will continue to be used by other carriers.

Ground transportation

CDG is connected to the RER urban rail network, providing services into central Paris three to four times per hour, and the high-speed rail TGV network. SNCF French Rail operates direct TGV services to several French stations from CDG, including Angers, Avignon, Bordeaux, Dijon, Grenoble, Le Mans, Lille, Lyons, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nantes, Nîmes, Poitiers, Rennes, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Tours, and Valence.

CDG airport is connected to Paris by the RER B suburban train, offering both non-stop services (going directly from the airport to Paris Gare du Nord and beyond) and services stopping at intermediate stations. The faster trains take about 30 minutes to the Gare du Nord, the stopping trains about 35. There are two RER B stations inside the airport:

  • one, called Paris Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1, is located inside Roissypôle (an area with hotels and company offices), besides Terminal 3, and is the preferred way to access terminals 1 and 3;
  • the other, called Paris Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2, is located beside the TGV station under Terminal 2.

Terminal 2 includes a TGV station with high-speed trains connecting to various destinations in France and via Lille Europe to Brussels .

Terminals 1, 2, the Roissypôle / Terminal 3 RER station, and parking lots PX and PR are connected by the free CDGVAL automatic shuttle. CDGVAL replaces free shuttle buses.

Roissybus, operated by RATP, departs from terminals 1 and 2 and goes non-stop to Paris, behind the Opéra Garnier.

There is a bus and coach station in Roissypôle, next to the RER B station. Buses departing from this station include RATP lines 350 and 351 going to Paris, and the bus going to the Parc Astérix.

RER B both serves CDG airport (with a travelling clientele) as well as northern suburbs of Paris. The line, operated by SNCF, suffers from slowness and saturation. For these reasons, French authorities have started two projects: one, CDG Express (opening between 2012 and 2015), will link CDG to Paris Gare de l'Est with trains specifically designed for air travellers; the other, RER B Nord Plus, will modernize and streamline the northern branches of RER B.

Alternate Airports

The three other airports serving Paris are Orly Airport, the most important after CDG, Paris-Beauvais-Tillé Airport, which mainly serves low-cost airlines, and Paris - Le Bourget Airport for General aviation (business jets).

Other facts of interest

Appearances in films and other works

Photography restrictions

On November 7 2005, prefectoral decision 05-4979 was issued, relating specifically to Charles de Gaulle airport. The law prohibits photographs being taken for private use of anything moving (e.g. aircraft) or not moving (e.g. buildings) within the "zone reservée" (the restricted area) from the "zone publique" (the public area).

Airlines and destinations

Terminal 1

Terminal 2

Hall A (Terminal 2A)

Hall B (Terminal 2B)

Hall C (Terminal 2C)

  • Air France (Abidjan, Antananarivo, Bangalore, Brazzaville, Chennai, Cotonou, Delhi, Douala, Havana, Kinshasa, Libreville, Lomé, Mumbaï, Punta Cana, Saint Martin, Santo Domingo, Tehran-Imam Khomeini [ends 25 October], Yaoundé)
  • Air India (Ahmedabad, Mumbaï, Newark)
  • Emirates Airline (Dubaï)
  • Iran Air (Tehran-Imam Khomeini)
  • Vietnam Airlines (Hanoï, Ho Chi Minh City)

Hall D (Terminal 2D)

  • Air Europa (Málaga, Valencia)
  • Air France (Athens, Berlin-Tegel, Bologna, Clermont-Ferrand, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Lisbon, Marseille, Montpelier, Munich, Nantes, Oslo, Pau, Prague, Stuttgart, Turin, Vienna)
    • Air France operated by Airlinair (Limoges)
    • Air France operated by Brit Air (Bilbao, Brest, Clermont-Ferrand, Genoa, Nantes, Pisa, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Trieste)
    • Air France operated by CityJet (Florence)
    • Air France operated by Régional (Asturias [begins 9 November], Basel-Mulhouse, Bologna, Bremen, Brest, Clermont-Ferrand, Hanover, Leipzig, Ljubljana, Nuremberg, Pau, Pisa, Turin, Vigo)
  • Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
  • Czech Airlines (Prague)
  • Finnair (Helsinki)
  • Iberia (Barcelona, Madrid)
  • Luxair (Luxembourg)
  • Portugalia (Porto)

Hall E (Terminal 2E)

  • Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
  • Aeroméxico (Mexico City)
  • Air France (Amman, Atlanta, Bamako, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing, Belgrade, Boston, Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Chicago-O'Hare, Conakry, Dakar, Damascus, Detroit, Guangzhou, Hanoï, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston-Intercontinental, Istanbul-Atatürk, Johannesburg, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester, Mexico City, Miami, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, New York-JFK, Newark, Ouagadougou, Papeete, Philadelphia [ends March 31], Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, Saint Petersburg, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Washington-Dulles, Yerevan)
    • Air France operated by Airlinair (Bristol, Southampton)
    • Air France operated by Brit Air (Newcastle, Zagreb)
    • Air France operated by CityJet (Birmingham, Dublin, Edinburgh, London-City, Shannon)
    • Air France operated by Régional (Aberdeen)
  • China Southern Airlines (Guangzhou)
  • Delta Air Lines (Atlanta, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, New York-JFK [ends 28 October], Philadelphia [begins April 1], Salt Lake City)
  • Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon)
  • Northwest Airlines (Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul [seasonal])

Hall F (Terminal 2F)

2F1 (Schengen Flights)

  • Air France (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Geneva, Lyons, Madrid, Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Naples, Nice, Rome-Fiumicino, Stockholm-Arlanda, Toulouse, Venice, Warsaw)
    • Air France operated by Brit Air (Rennes)
    • Air France operated by CityJet (Gothenburg-Landvetter)
    • Air France operated by Régional (Gothenburg-Landvetter, Verona)
  • Alitalia (Milan-Linate, Milan-Malpensa, Rome-Fiumicino)
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam)

2F2 (Non-Schengen)

Terminal 3 (formerly T9)

Cargo airlines

(Passenger) Terminal 3

  • Europe Airpost (Agadir, Antalya, Athens, Bastia, Bodrum, Brussels, Calvi, Corfu, Djerba, Faro, Funchal, Heraklion, İzmir, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Lyons, Malta, Marrakech, Marseilles, Metz-Nancy, Monastir, Mulhouse, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Poitiers, Porto, Puerto del Rosar, Pula, Seville, Split, Tenerife-Reina Sofía, Tangier, Tetouan, Tivat, Trieste, Tunis, Varna)

Freight Terminal 1

Freight Terminal 2

  • Air Contractors (Birmingham, Dublin, Glasgow-International, London-Stansted, Manchester, Shannon)
  • FedEx Express (Almaty, Amsterdam, Ancona, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin-Templehof, Birmingham, Basel-Mulhouse, Brussels, Budapest, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dublin, Dubai, Newark, Rome-Fiumicino, Frankfurt, Glasgow-International, Hanover, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Indianapolis, Seoul-Incheon, Indianapolis, London-Stansted, Lyon, Madrid, Manchester, Memphis, Marseille, Mumbaï, Munich, Milan-Malpensa, Newark, Nice, Tokyo-Narita, Prague, Shanghaï-Pudong, Subic Bay, Shannon, Stockholm-Arlanda, Stuttgart, Toulouse, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Warsaw)

Freight Terminal 7

  • Europe Airpost (Ajaccio, Brest, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dole, Lourdes-Tarbes, Limoges, Lyon, Montpellier, Marseille, Milan-Malpensa, Nice, Nantes, Pau, Marrakech, Rennes, Strasbourg, Toulouse)

Former Airlines & Destinations

See also


Notes and references

External links


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