The next generation of airport terminal

Posted: 6 February 2007 | Marc Noyelle, Executive Director & Chief Development Officer, Aéroports de Paris | No comments yet

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport will undergo a phenomenal expansion over the next two years, one driven by necessity and increasing passenger numbers, but shaped by a commitment to design. Marc Noyelle discusses how Aéroports de Paris is blending function and aesthetics to create an airport of the future.

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport will undergo a phenomenal expansion over the next two years, one driven by necessity and increasing passenger numbers, but shaped by a commitment to design. Marc Noyelle discusses how Aéroports de Paris is blending function and aesthetics to create an airport of the future.

Between March 2007 and March 2009, Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport will increase its capacity by 20 million passengers (see Figure 1) through a series of expansions: the S3 satellite, June 2007 (8.5 Mpax); the new concourse of terminal 2E in March 2008 (6 Mpax); the T2G regional terminal in September 2008 (3 Mpax); and the completion of terminal 1’s renovation (2.5 Mpax.)

Aéroports de Paris raised the funds to carry out this project by increasing its capital and floating its shares on the stock market in the summer of 2006, since the company is now listed on the Paris stock exchange. Its cash flow enables it to cover this large-scale programme costing €2.7 billion.

Aéroports de Paris accompanies its increased capacity with improvements in the quality of its services by adopting stricter vigilance to ensure the coherence of each link of the chain made up of the land access points, the points which passenger flows have to pass in the terminals, the security and border checks, the service offerings, the handling of baggage, the handling of aircraft and the air access points.

In particular, the contact parking rate for aircraft will be increased considerably, thus enabling the Air France-KLM / Sky Team hub to further increase its performance.

The CDGVal people mover (Figure 2), which will be commissioned in March 2007, will greatly increase the service quality offered because it will be connected to the main car parks as well as all the terminals.

Similarly, the commissioning of the new huge Baggage Sorting System (TBE) will guarantee a minimum transit time without loss of baggage, thus improving the hub’s efficiency and the service provided for all.


S3 will offer a warm, convivial place for living in, a bright, colourful atmosphere and even more boutiques. Several new, free-of-charge services will be available to everyone: rest areas, electric sockets near seats in the waiting areas, work tables in Wi-Fi hotspots, “mini” baggage trolleys in shops and departure lounges, children’s play areas and nurseries. The focus throughout will be on the passengers’ well-being, so that flying can go hand in hand with enjoyment.

Above anything else, the streamlined building is designed to be functional. Its interior will, however, be slightly more sophisticated: the yellow and orange colour scheme on the walls will create a bright, warm atmosphere, while the bay windows will bathe the vast space in light. Broad concourses, dotted with information panels and screens, and simplified passenger circulation routes will enable visitors to get their bearings immediately.

The building measures 700m long by 36m wide (see Figure 3). It accommodates up to 20 aircraft, with 6 stands sized for the Airbus A380. Nominal passenger capacity is 8.5 million per year.

Main features:

  • Boarding lounges.
  • Check-in and luggage claim areas connected to the CDG Terminal 2E via the LISA rapid transport line.
  • International shopping area measuring 3,300m2, lounge area measuring 3,900m2.

The construction of the new concourse at terminal 2E

Work to remove the concrete roof of the concourse began in summer 2006 (Figure 4). It will be replaced by a structure consisting entirely of metal arches. But the carefully dismantled exterior glass roof will be fully re-used owing to its good condition. So the exterior appearance of the concourse will be preserved, but the interior will be enhanced by natural wood facing and various improvements to its overall functioning. The atmosphere and the view of the runways will be more attractive. A variety of services, rest areas, children’s corners, etc. will be added.
The first metal frame will be assembled in early 2007 and the opening of the new concourse is scheduled for March 2008.


The new “regional” terminal, on which work has just started, will be located on the far eastern end of the hub.

The Schengen-zone terminal, measuring 21,000m3, offers pseudo-contact accommodation for 50- to 120-seater aircraft, plus six remote aircraft stands, and has a total capacity of around three million passengers (1,700 pax/peak times).


CDG Terminal 1 has not undergone any major renovation since it was opened in 1974 when Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was inaugurated. Confronted with ageing installations and facing difficulties due to obsolete systems, Aéroports de Paris launched a vast renovation programme in 2002 (€250M) with three main objectives: to re-establish satisfactory conditions for handling passengers and baggage; to provide passengers with better facilities; and to simplify and ease passenger circuits. Undertaken in 4 successive geographic phases after complicated preparatory work, the first two phases have now been completed.

CDGVal train

This people mover is built by Siemens Transportation System and the final tests are under way. A quiet-running system, with tyred wheels on metallic track, it will improve the reliability and quality of service while avoiding more than one million kilometers of bus rides per year for the transfer of passengers and travel of employees.

\With its 5 stations and one workshop garage, it will link up terminals 1, 2 and 3 and the airport’s main car parks, and have an initial capacity of 2,000 passengers per hour; expansion will be possible up to 4,100 passengers per hour.

Each of these 7 train sets can transport 120 passengers every 4 minutes, covering a distance of 3.5 km in less than 8 minutes, including 3 stop stations.

Baggage Sorting System, East (TBE)

TBE is the forthcoming integrated baggage sorting system for the Paris-Charles de Gaulle hub, designed as a one-stop facility accommodating all transit requirements for baggage at CDG Terminals 2E and 2F. It will make a key contribution to hub performance by improving the quality and efficiency of baggage processing. A new module under satellite S3 will be added at a later stage.

  • Scope: module E & F with connection to existing terminal C via module M. Eventual extension to Satellite S3.
  • Dimensions: 78 registration benches, 9 put-down stations, 4 sorters, 32 sorting outlets (jetty plus carrousel), 11 incoming baggage carrousels, 14 integrated PEDS and 4 integrated EDS.
  • Start-up capacity 8,600 items per hour.

All of these new projects will not stop in 2008. New extensions are already on the drawing board, such as the one for Satellite 4 or Terminal 4, with its first phase to be commissioned in 2012 and 2016. Now and with every day that passes we are building the airport of the future.

These vast projects are the result of careful research into what an ideal airport should be: pleasant, efficient and sustainable.

The airport of the future

In 2005 and 2006, with the collaboration of Air France, Aéroports de Paris conducted a prospective study on the airport of the future to 2025 by exploring each of the key themes of the airport: passenger demand, quality of service, safety and security, architecture, baggage handling, environment etc.

The conclusions of this study are that security and baggage handling, as well as new information technologies, are key factors in the organisation of terminals that must be large enough (surface area per passenger) to adapt while remaining easy to use and comfortable for passengers. Airside facilities should not undergo any fundamental changes.

Energy challenges represent significant stakes for the airport of the future. On the ground, airports will have to help air transport players meet three main challenges to energy-saving: land access, the consumption of terminals and aircraft ground handling activities.

Airport access ease will be a determining point of the quality of service offered to passengers. In 2005, one third of the passengers of Paris-Charles de Gaulle travelled to the airport using mass transportation, one third by taxi and a third by car. In the future, the development of Paris-Charles de Gaulle will grant priority to simple, fast, reliable and non-polluting mass transportation with the commissioning of CDG-Express by 2012, a direct and fast train to Paris every 15 minutes (trip length less than 20 minutes).

For short trips including Brussels and London with high speed train (TGV), the TGV station of Paris-Charles de Gaulle (see Figure 5) already hosts 3 million passengers per year and this number is growing quickly. These high speed trains improve operations at the Air France-KLM hub.

High speed train/aircraft interoperability will also concern freight for the improved optimisation of capacity and environmental constraints.

The airport of the future will finally be a vast intermodal cluster based on the development of a mass transit network, which will make it possible to face the energy challenges of land transport.

The terminals: towards the greater energy efficiency of facilities

An airport like Paris-Charles de Gaulle consumes approximately 300,000 MWh of electricity per year, which represents the consumption of a city of 150,000 inhabitants. All the energies, mainly electricity and natural gas, represent more than ?30 M in energy purchases per year.

The increase in the number of passengers and the related energy consumption (heating, cooling, hot water…) are roughly similar (see Figure 6) in spite of energy saving efforts, because security measures, luggage processing, comfort, services, shops etc. all require more and more space per passenger. We have to build facilities large enough to go along with this (while remaining cost-effective) and this requires more and more air conditioning and other types of energy consumption.

The airport of the future will operate energy-saving facilities built according to the most stringent environmental quality requirements. Several international airports, such as Zurich or Boston, have already implemented energy control techniques including heat pumps, geothermal pile foundations, the integration of renewable solar energy, and more generally an optimisation of air conditioning comfort according to the occupancy rate of passengers and to the premises: check-in area, shopping area, waiting area, embarkation area, office and workshop area.

In 2008, Aéroports de Paris will open a high energy-saving regional terminal (T2G) at Paris-Charles de Gaulle reducing energy consumptions by 20 per cent with respect to the existing situation, which is already very good.

In 2012, the 100,000 m2 of the future satellite (S4) of Terminal 2 will be built according to high environmental quality principles.

These new energy criteria for the construction and operation of the terminals of the future will meet the European recommendation of reducing emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020. In the long term, they will be consistent with the national commitments of dividing greenhouse gas emissions by 4 by 2050.

In the next 20 years, it is very likely that passengers will become very sensitive to controlling energy wastage throughout their trip. The airport of the future will thus be energy-saving to satisfy its clients first.

Finally, the buildings necessary for the life of the airport and its logistics will henceforth include an “ecological aero-city initiative”.

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