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Water salute for first flight as Paris Orly airport reopens

The airport in Ile-de-France reopened this morning (Friday June 26) after being closed since March 31 due to the Covid-19 crisis. The first flight to leave was given a “water salute” from airport firemen. 

The Transavia flight to Porto, Portugal, departed at 6:27 am this morning, marking the first commercial plane to leave Paris Orly airport (Val-de-Marne, Ile de France) in almost three months. 

As the plane began its journey towards the runway, two fire engines stationed on either side shot water into the air, forming an archway for the plane to pass underneath. 

Paris Aéroports (which manages the Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports in the Paris region) tweeted that the “water salute” was a tradition at the airport.

Read more: French airports prepare to reopen

Read more: Air France to run 30% of its flights from July onwards

New safety measures in-place 

During the Covid-19 crisis, a limited number of commercial flights continued to run from Charles de Gaulle airport.

Meanwhile, Orly has been used to evacuate patients sick with Covid-19 to ease pressure on hospitals in the Ile-de-France region.

Since June 8, the airport has also been used for repatriations. While only two or three flights per day were scheduled for this purpose, it did allow airport staff to get used to new safety measures, such as temperature checks in the baggage reclaim area using thermal cameras. 

Other new safety measures include the installation of Plexiglas screens at counters, public hand gel dispensers, and controlled entry into shops to make sure they do not become not over-crowded.


Limited re-opening at the airport 

In normal circumstances, around 90,000 passengers travel through Orly airport each day, arriving and departing on 650 flights. 

Today, only 74 flights are scheduled, which are set to transport an estimated 8,000 passengers between Corsica, countries in the Schengen zone, and overseas French territories. 

Currently only Terminal 3 is open, with Terminals 1, 2 and 4 scheduled to reopen at later dates. There are only 400 employees working in the airport, as opposed to the normal 3,000. 

The airport expects to increase to 200 commercial flights per day over the summer, but this is still three times less than before the Covid-19 crisis. 

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