THE FRENCH Government has come out in favour of a third main airport for the Paris, and on doubling to four the number of runways at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The timescale for the developments will remain unclear until a public inquiry has been held. A noise-reduction programme at Charles de Gaulle, including a ban on night flights for the noisiest aircraft, will begin on 31 March, 1996, says the transport ministry. A plan for a fifth runway at the airport has been abandoned.

Opposition is expected from local groups. The new runways will be built to the west of existing strips, which the Government says "...will be of least nuisance to locals".

A third airport will be built in a region outside the Ile de France area which is now served by Charles de Gaulle and Orly, says the Government. Sites in the Picardy and Centre regions are being considered, and the Government recommends that they should be reserved "as soon as possible".

If current growth continues, Aeroports de Paris estimates that Charles de Gaulle, which handled 55.3 million passengers in 1994, will be saturated in three or four years' time.

Source: Flight International