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Border delays at Paris airports “critical”

Paris airports are being hit by unprecedented delays of up to two hours at international borders, causing problems for passengers and airlines.

In the past few weeks, Orly and Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (Paris-CDG) have reported waits of up to two hours at police border checkpoints (postes de contrôle de Police Aux Frontières), with many airline companies seeing flight delays of several hours as a result.

Marc Rochet, the president of the airline Air Caraïbes, was one of the first to sound the alarm, reporting that delays at the police borders at Orly-Sud had reached “extremely critical levels” and were causing many “public problems”.

He calculated that by the end of June, there had been 320 hours of delay across all international flights leaving the south terminal at Orly.

The head of Air France, Jean-Marc Janaillac, has echoed Rochet’s thoughts, calling for “urgent” measures to address the situation.

Pascal de Izaguirre, chief executive of the airline Corsair, has said that the situation “is only getting worse”, and could even “provoke riots between exasperated passengers”, making airport teams’ jobs even more difficult.

An airport source, speaking to L’Agence France Presse, acknowledged that people were impatient but he played down the risk of riots, and said that airports were already doing everything they could to help.

Problems have been exacerbated thanks to France’s state of emergency, in which it has been since November 2015; and a new European ruling reinforcing controls on entry from non-Schengen countries (including the UK, which has never been part of the Schengen agreement area).

In a statement last year, David Skuli, head of la Police Aux Frontières, said: “The terrorist threat will last a long time. I can’t reply positively to demands to move people through Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle in less than 30 minutes. Checks must be enforced.”

More measures to combat the problem were discussed this Tuesday, and include plans to introduce more automated passport checkers, and invest more in improving computer servers to deal with increased capacity.

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