Fri, 14 May 2021

PARIS, France: Easter travel at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris usually begins two weeks before the holiday, and culminates in the airport's busiest weekend of the year.

This year, observers placed the airport as operating at 18 to 25 percent passenger capacity, compared to past Easter holidays.

With France's renewed Covid lockdown, de Gaulle airport was a very quiet place.

"It's nothing like what you would normally see," said Amor, who has worked at the airport for 20 years, as quoted by Reuters.

"The airport would be full of people going to Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt for the spring holidays. We handled a Tunisia flight yesterday and there were 80 people," he said.

The situation is even more striking, since the airport is only operating from two of its 11 terminals.

Also, there is no longer a special check-in area for business class passengers. And a large Covid testing area takes up one part of a terminal.

Prior to the pandemic, 100,000 people worked at de Gaulle airport. Many are now furloughed and it is expected that up to 30,000 jobs will be permanently lost.

In contrast with France, on the Thursday before Easter the U.S. saw 1.56 million air travellers at the nation's airports, which was 65 percent of the 2019 level.

However, some French businesses are starting to return to international traveling.

"We have to start moving again and keep doing business," said Marc Vacher, an executive, speaking to Reuters before a flight to Ukraine.

"You can't go without face-to-face contact with customers; otherwise, it is harder to catch up later," he added.

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