Monday, June 17, 2024

Here’s how the Paris Olympics Opening Ceremony could affect your summer holiday

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On one of the busiest travel days of the year, planes will be excluded from a vast area of northern France for over five hours during the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympics. The ban has been imposed due to fears of a terrorist attack.

A no-fly zone covering 28,922 square miles – almost the size of Belgium – has been ordered by the French civil aviation authority, the DGAC, on the afternoon and evening of Friday 26 July. That is a key date for millions of travellers from France, the UK and elsewhere.

The Zone d’Interdiction Temporaire (ZIT) includes both the giant Paris airports – Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly – as well as Beauvais, a key budget airline base north of the capital. Normally the three would handle more than 350,000 passengers between them on a peak summer Friday.

The DGAC says: “A temporary prohibited area (ZIT Ceremonie) is created to ensure the implementation of the special air security arrangements as part of the protection of the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympic Games 2024.”

Almost all planes will be banned from a circle with a radius of 80 nautical miles centred on Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris from 6.30pm to 12 midnight local time.

The International Ops Bulletin reports: “Flight plans to Paris airports will be rejected starting 1530z [5.30pm local time]. Departures from Charles de Gaulle might be allowed starting 2130z [11.30pm local time] with special approval.”

Besides arrivals and departures from those airports, thousands of other flights will be affected. For example, the most direct routes from London Heathrow and Manchester to Nice in southern France pass straight over the French capital. Flight paths such as Bristol to Milan and Edinburgh to Marseille also normally cross Paris.

They will need to be diverted over western France or Belgium, adding to the already severe pressure on European airspace.

Britain’s biggest budget airline, easyJet, has cancelled almost 100 flights to and from the French capital because of the airspace closure. Normally those aircraft would have carried around 18,000 passengers.

An easyJet spokesperson said: “Like all airlines operating to and from Paris, easyJet has been requested to reduce its flying programme for duration of the 2024 Olympics opening ceremony on Friday 26 July 2024.

“This resulted in the cancellation of 96 flights at both Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly.”

The airline says all passengers affected have been told and provided with alternative travel options.

Ryanair is the largest operator at Beauvais airport, with links from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford and Manchester. A spokesperson said: “Due to the closure of the Paris airspace on 26 July, we, like all airlines, have been forced to cancel/reschedule a number of flights operating to/from Beauvais airport that day.

“Affected passengers have been notified and advised of their options. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of this Paris airspace closure, which is entirely beyond airlines’ control.”

Wizz Air has grounded only two flights. A spokesperson said: “We anticipate some minor delays due to the restrictions but do not expect any major disruptions. We would advise travellers flying on 26 July to monitor their flight’s status and allow more time than usual for airport procedures.”

Flights by military, customs, police, gendarmerie, civil security or emergency aircraft will be allowed in the area, along with “aircraft in charge of filming for the 2024 Olympic Games” and flights carrying dignitaries accredited by the French foreign ministry.

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