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Airlines sound alarm over 'chaotic' border queues at Paris airports

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Airlines sound alarm over 'chaotic' border queues at Paris airports
Photo: AFP
13:39 CEST+02:00
Passengers have long complained about the huge queues at passport control at Orly and Charles-de-Gaulle airports in Paris and now airlines are demanding action from the French government.

Several airlines have sounded the alarm bells after queues at border checks at both Charles-de-Gaulle and Orly airports have topped two hours in recent weeks.

That has meant airlines having to delay numerous flights.

It's not just those wishing to leave who end up stood in lengthy queues. Waiting times at passport checks for passengers arriving in France are also notoriously long at certain peak times.

“It’s never been as bad and it’s getting worse,” said Pascal de Izaguirre, the head of Corsair, who suggested frustration could boil over into anger and lead to “riots between exasperated passengers”.

Marc Rochet, the president of the airline Air Caraibes was the first to raise the alert saying that delays the checkpoints had reached “extremely critical levels” and were causing “public order issues”.

Nicolas Paulissen, Union of French airports (UAF) said the situation at airport checkpoints was simply “chaotic”.

On Tuesday representatives of airlines headed to the French Prime Minister’s office at Matignon to appeal for help to remedy what they describe as a "thrombosis" at France’s airport borders.

(AFP)

As anyone who has passed through the two airports in recent years will have noted the problem essentially revolves around a lack of PAF (Police aux Frontieres) border police at the checkpoints.

The shortage in staff is exacerbated by France being on high alert for terrorism which has meant increased and more thorough checks, even on flights within the borderless Schengen area.

An EU demand for closer checks on passengers coming from outside the Schengen area, including the UK has also added to the strain on staff.

That’s not to mention the fact that passenger numbers rose by 25 percent between 2006 and 2016.

"The situation is complicated. In addition to the strengthening of checks, the increase in air traffic and the necessary refurbishments in progress have accentuated the delays",  Jacques Guyomarc'h, director of border police at Orly airport told Le Parisien.

But the situation has been urgent for a long time. Last summer The Local reported that the head of Paris airports had already appealed for reinforcements.

“We're noticing a considerable increase in waiting times at border control which has translated to a decrease in the quality of our services,” Augustin de Romanet, CEO of Paris Aéroport said in May last year.

One solution put forward was to dramatically up the number of automatic passport gates run by Parafe (see pic below).

But for the moment passengers passing through Charles-de-Gaulle or Orly airports this summer would be wise to get to the airport early.

 

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