Two terminals, two atmospheres. Or rather, four terminals, three atmospheres. This is the expression that could best describe the departure halls of Orly airport, Wednesday June 16 in the morning. In the spacious departures hall of Terminal 3, which opened in April 2019, small groups of passengers push their luggage trolleys, looking happy. ” It feels good, smiles Céline, who flies to Martinique with her two children and her husband. It is a deliverance to return to our family. We are quite stressed, but the procedures were not too complicated. “
Happy, the air is also loaded with stress. Moreover, in the distance, an argument breaks out. An aspiring vacationer lashes out at the staff for a suitcase that is too heavy. “It’s regular, but overall it’s going very well”, says Séverine, customer service coordinator. “Today, in total at Orly, we welcome 40,000 passengers, yesterday it was 36,000. We can see a clear evolution since the lifting of the compelling reasons. But that’s still much less than in 2019, when we welcomed 90,000 travelers during the same period. “
Indeed, the airport bears the scars of the fifteen months of crisis in the sector, a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the side of terminals 1 and 2, which nevertheless have “Reopened this week”, it is dead calm. The counters are closed, the airline billboards extinguished. And, in total, of the 26 shops, cafes and restaurants that we count, only three have raised their curtains: a Paul bakery, a Relay shop, and a small Ladurée counter. But, on the other side of security, “ all stores are open ”, assures the press officer of Air France in Orly.
About ten minutes on foot from there, the climate is quite different in front of terminal 4, mainly dedicated to flights to the Antilles and the Maghreb. Under the sun, already very hot despite the early hour, families, including small children, wait in the zigzag line. A security officer begs – shouting – the arrivals to prepare their plane tickets.
Inside, in a new line which stretches for several tens of meters, a father testifies, tired: “Everything is very poorly organized, it’s a big disappointment. We wait outside for almost an hour, with the two children, although we followed the advice to arrive four hours early. Now we have to endure a long wait inside, while I have the priority card. In the end, it’s going to make us a twenty-four hour trip, for a flight of less than four hours. “
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