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France scraps Paris airport expansion over climate concerns

by Reuters
Thursday, 11 February 2021 11:01 GMT

An Air France Airbus A380 aircraft lands at Charles-de-Gaulle airport after its retirement flight, in Roissy, near Paris, June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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Operator links decision to COVID-19 crisis and promises to turn Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports into 'leaders in green aviation'

By Claude Chendjou

PARIS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - France has scrapped a major expansion of Charles de Gaulle, the main Paris airport, citing climate goals and broader environmental concerns over the 9 billion euro ($11 billion) plan.

The government asked operator Aeroports de Paris to drop the "obsolete project that was no longer aligned with environmental policy", Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili said in an interview published in Le Monde on Thursday.

ADP confirmed the project's cancellation, pledging to come up with an alternative strategy to transform Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports into "leaders in green aviation".

Airport expansions are in growing conflict with greenhouse emissions-cutting goals, often generating legal challenges. At the same time, the coronavirus travel slump has bought policymakers more time to review capacity ambitions.

The UK Supreme Court recently overturned an earlier ruling against London Heathrow's planned third runway, but the project still faces administrative and legal hurdles.

The Paris expansion would have increased capacity at Charles de Gaulle by 40 million passengers annually or about 50%, while creating 50,000 jobs, according to majority state-owned ADP.

The decision to end the project is "one of the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis," ADP's statement said.

Any future airport expansions that increase emissions would be barred under a French draft law based on proposals developed last year by a so-called "citizens' climate convention".

But upgrades already underway are unaffected by the bill, and President Emmanuel Macron's government has backed away from pledges to implement other convention recommendations, including an immediate increase to aviation taxes. ($1 = 0.8247 euros)

(Reporting by Claude Chendjou; Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Raissa Kasolowsky)