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Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport ( ), also known as Roissy Airport (or just Roissy in French), in the Parismarker area, is one of the world's principal aviation centres, as well as Francemarker's main 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, to the north-east of Paris. The airport serves as the principal hub for Air France.

In 2008, Charles de Gaulle Airport handled 60,851,998 passengers and 559,812 aircraft movements, making it the world's fifth busiest airport in terms of passengers and Europe's busiest (world's 5th busiest) airport in terms of aircraft movements. In terms of cargo traffic, the airport is the busiest in Europe and the world's 6th busiest, having handled 2,280,049 metric tonnes of cargo.


Charles de Gaulle Airport extends over 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 Orlymarker, Le Bourgetmarker, Marsa Alammarker in Egyptmarker and several smaller airports in the suburbs of Paris.


Aerial view of Terminal 1
Terminal 1 old check in point
Terminal 1 new check-in
The planning and construction phase of what was known then as Aéroport de Paris Nord (Paris North Airport) began in 1966. On 8 March 1974 the airport, renamed Charles de Gaulle 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 airplane passengers at certain times of the day. The airport organises 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. The chime can be heard in the Roman Polanski film Frantic. The chime was replace by the "Indicatif ADP".

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. Two of the dead were reported to be Chinesemarker citizens and another Czechmarker. 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 Airportmarker, which collapsed while under construction on 28 September 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 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 17 March 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 30 March 2008.


Terminal 2 Hall F.
Wide open spaces characterise Terminal 2.
The Airport has three terminals. Terminal 1 is the oldest. Terminal 2 was originally built exclusively for Air France, since then it had been expanded significantly and now also 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 renovated and modernised.

The RERmarker station for Terminal 1, Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1, is at a distance from Terminal 1 must be reached using the free CDGVAL automatic light rail system (Véhicule Automatique Léger (VAL); previously, shuttle buses were used.

Terminal 2 today consists of multiple terminals joined together by ground-level or below ground passageways. The seven terminals consist of 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F and the separate 2G. Terminal 2G is located away from the terminals 2A-2F and a bus ride is needed for transfer. Terminal 2 also has an RER and TGV station, Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 – TGVmarker, below the common area linking halls 2C-2F.

Terminal 3 has a single hall. It is located from Terminal 1, but the walking path is long. The RER and CDGVAL trains are at a distance of on foot.

Started on 4 April 2007, CDGVAL links all the three terminals (except hall 2G), although there is only a single station for Terminal 2, near the rail station, so the walk distance to the more distant halls 2A-2B is more than (and both CDGVAL and bus is needed to reach 2G from Terminal 1).

Expansion plans 2007-2012

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

The completion of long Satellite 3 (or S3) to the immediate east of Terminals 2E and 2F provides further jetways for large capacity airliners, specifically the Airbus A380. Check-in and baggage handling are provided by the existing infrastructure in Terminals 2E and 2F. Satellite 3 was opened in part on 27 June 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.

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. This terminal was in operation in March 2009. It is connected to the Terminal 2 complex by shuttle buses and eventually an extension of the CDGVAL shuttle train service. 2G is used for passengers flying in the Schengen Area (and thus has no passport control) and handles Air France regional and European traffic and provides 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, or walk on the ground. Its bus connection is outside the security area and a security check is needed also for transfer passengers. At least 20 minutes must be planned as time when getting from another terminal to the 2G departure area.

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 30 March 2008, the reopening of Terminal 2E was completed allowing maximum passenger activity and full airport services. Air France operations are now concentrated at Terminals 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F and 2G and it has ceased operating from Terminals 2A and 2B.

Terminal 3 is not really connected and there is a more than five-minute walk from the tram station. Also, the information booth may direct people to Terminal 2 for certain airlines that are actually serviced by Terminal 3. In addition, in each of the terminals, they only show the flights in the that terminal.

Airlines and destinations

Cities with direct international airlinks with Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport

Terminal 1

Terminal 2

Hall A (Terminal 2A)

Hall B (Terminal 2B)

Hall C (Terminal 2C)

Hall D (Terminal 2D)

Hall E (Terminal 2E)

Terminal 2E Departure Lounge

Hall F (Terminal 2F)

Hall 2F1 (Schengen Flights)
Hall 2F2 (Non-Schengen Flights)

Hall G (Terminal 2G)

Terminal 3

Cargo airlines

Ground transportation

RER -- Heavy-rail service to downtown and suburban Paris

CDG is connected to the RER suburban rail network, providing services into central Paris three to four times per hour.

CDG airport is connected to Paris by the RER B suburban route. Normally there are two types of services: 4 times per hour to Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreusemarker calling at all stations to Cité Universitairemarker, then Bourg-la-Reine, La Croix de Bernymarker, Antonymarker, Massy – Palaiseaumarker and then all stations to Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse and 4 times per hour to Massy – Palaiseau (on the Saint-Rémy line), first stop Gare du Nordmarker and then all stations to Massy – Palaiseau. The fast services take about 30 minutes to the Gare du Nord, the stopping services about 35. There are two RER B stations inside the airport:
  • one, called Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1, is located inside Roissypôle (an area with hotels and company offices) next to Terminal 3 and is the preferred way to access Terminals 1 and 3;
  • the other, called Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 – TGV, is located beside the TGV station under Terminal 2.

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'Estmarker with trains specifically designed for air travellers; the other, RER B Nord Plus, will modernise and streamline the northern branches of RER B.

TGV -- French High-Speed Rail

Terminal 2 includes a TGV station on the LGV Interconnexion Est high-speed line. SNCF operates direct TGV services to several French stations from CDG, including Le Havremarker, Angersmarker, Avignonmarker, Bordeauxmarker, Dijonmarker, Grenoblemarker, Le Mansmarker, Lillemarker, Arrasmarker, Lyonmarker, Marseillesmarker, Montpelliermarker, Nantesmarker, Nîmesmarker, Poitiersmarker, Rennesmarker, Strasbourgmarker, Toulousemarker, Toursmarker and Valencemarker.

CDGVAL -- Free Light-rail shuttle between terminals

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


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

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 Astérixmarker.

Alternative Airports

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

Accidents and incidents

The tail of the burning wreckage of Flight 358
  • On 25 July 2000, a Concorde, Air France Flight 4590marker from Charles de Gaulle to John F. Kennedy International Airportmarker, crashed into the farthest hotel of Hotelissimo in Gonessemarker killing everyone on the aircraft and four people on the ground. Investigations concluded that a tire burst occurred on take off due to metal left on the runway from a previously departing aircraft. The Concorde was on a Germanmarker charter flight for a tour company.

Other accidents and incidents involving CDG include:


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 possible 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.

Appearances in films and other works

Photography restrictions

On 7 November 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). Thus, for example, one is prohibited from taking pictures from the glassed-in jetways while boarding or debarking; however, it is OK to take pictures inside one's aircraft or terminal.

See also


Notes and references

  1. Passenger Traffic 2008 Preliminary from Airports Council International
  2. Traffic Movements 2008 preliminary from Airports Council International
  3. Cargo Traffic 2008 Preliminary from Airports Council International
  4. Infos en direct et en vidéo, l'actualité en temps réel -
  5. Terminal 1
  6. Terminal 2
  7. RER station, Terminal 1
  8. CDG Express
  9. RER B Nord Plus

External links


Collapse of Terminal 2E

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