Are you spending a short time in the city of Paris, transiting or just seeking to re-experience one of the most popular avenues in Paris without actually walking through town, then Satellite 4 is the place for you. From real French chocolatiers to a live museum, Satellite 4 offers superior passenger experience. OMOLOLA ITAYEMI writes
A visit through Satellite 4 (S4), the new Terminal 2E (estimated at euro580 million)boarding area at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport opened me up to a different travelling experience. From check-in to the allure of Parisian cult shopping, this innovative space responds to all your needs.
Charles de Gaulle is the second-largest European airport in terms of passengers — 61 million last year — and the seventh-largest worldwide.
Expansion of airports especially those built in the 70’s like CDG is normal. But much more than that Aeroports du Paris (ADP) and Air France are optimistic that S4 will reduce connecting times. ‘’Long-haul passengers at present use three different terminals and the move to Satellite 4 should reduce connecting times,’’ the airport manager says. It will also free up space in other terminals and speed up service for people making shorter flights. Air France and Skyteam will therefore be migrating their activities to the east of the airport in terminals 2E, 2F and 2G.
Murtala Muhammed International airport and ten other major airports in Nigeria are presently undergoing renovations at the cost of N19billion. Heathrow Airport in London has been investing an average of £1 billion, or $1.6 billion, a year since 2008 to upgrade all its existing terminals by 2014. This June, the 2.5 billion euro ($3.3 billion) Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport will open south of Berlin, replacing the Schönefeld and Tegel airports and also Tempelhof, which closed in 2008.
(covering 1,300 sqm and the largest retail store ever opened at a Paris airport),
For Alexandre de Juniac, who took over last year as chief executive of Air France, having a state-of-the-art hub in Paris is more than a matter of competitiveness: it is a question of survival.
“The structural and commercial success or failure of Charles de Gaulle is the success or failure of Air France; we are in the same ship,” Mr. Juniac said. “If there is a problem of reputation, we will tackle it together.”
The first step in the upgrade, which will include roughly 2.4 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in new infrastructure investments by 2015, was the opening of the new satellite Terminal 2E in July which is tailor-made to serve the needs of Air France (AF represents more than half of all traffic at Charles de Gaulle).
The new building, Satellite 4, opened in June cost 560 million euros is designed to accommodate an additional 7.8 million passengers annually. It will be dedicated exclusively to intercontinental flights operated by Air France and its SkyTeam alliance partners — 60 percent of the airport’s total traffic — grouping under one roof tens of thousands of flights that are now scattered across three terminal buildings
“In the past, we have seen that when we offer new buildings, there is an immediate increase in the level of satisfaction,” said Pierre Graff, chief executive of Aéroports de Paris, which also operates the area’s second-busiest airport, at Orly, south of Paris.
Part of what has made Charles de Gaulle such a headache for travelers, analysts said, has been its sprawling buildings with confusing layouts, signage in French language with minimal translations, long queues at security, passport control and baggage claim. But these will change with S4 including airport staff of different cultural heritage attending to passengers with similar ethnic affiliations to provide stress-free travel.
Much more than structures, the CDG is also working on the humane aspect of the upgrade. This include airline, security agents and airport employees. The airport is sending its employees to charm school. The iconic, cylindrical Terminal 1, which opened in 1974, was difficult to integrate with the seven subsequent structures that, over the course of two decades, have come to make up Terminal 2. Terminal 2 had its last significant expansion in 2008: 2G, a stand-alone structure on the airport’s eastern edge, serves European flights. Terminal 3, which mainly serves low-cost carriers and charters, was last renovated in 2002.
New infrastructure is just part of the equation, however. Quality of service is another. Charles de Gaulle has made progress in this regard, Mr. Graff said, “but we still need to improve.”
To that end, Satellite 4 will include about 65,000 square feet of new boutiques and restaurants, as well as an art museum exhibiting works from the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and other Paris collections. It will also house a new 600-seat business-class lounge for Air France, which will be the airline’s largest. With the implementation of satellite 4, Air France will offer its customers the largest lounge in its network, aiming to turn the airport experience into an occasion for relaxing and experiencing a pure moment of well-being.
The most arresting feature of this new area spanning over 3,000 sq. m is in complete contrast with the airport environment, adopting a new nature-inspired architectural concept. Designed in cooperation with Noé Duchaufour Lawrance and Brandimage, taking inspiration from a park, the clover-themed lounge is designed to allow guests to relax, enjoy a snack, work, read and enjoy entertainment in different atmospheres. Built with the customer’s comfort and relaxation in mind, the colours and organic lines are synonymous with the customer’s well-being with its clover theme.
A little different from the regular duty-free shopping area, S4 takes its inspiration from the world of the Grand Magasin but also from the uber luxury shopping avenues, small wonder it’s currently labeled ‘the new avenue of fashion and luxury at Charles De Gaulle airport.
The space, designed by international design agency Saguez & Partners, offers long-haul passengers some 6,000 sq. m. of boutiques, restaurants and lounge areas. Architects and engineers have designed S4 with the aim of facilitating passenger channels and making it as comfortable and pleasant as possible. “We designed the passenger route to Satellite 4 to resemble a stroll through the city of Paris. Travellers arrive at an elegant metro station and then walk through a shopping mall, modelled on the department store and featuring France’s most iconic brands, before reaching a showcase of European technology, the departure lounge, that offers an unrestricted view of Airbus A380 aircraft. The passenger experience will be one of the city, culture and modernity,” explains chief architect François Tamisier.
Getting into the main space involves entering the terminal first through the 2,200 sqm Buy Duty Free Paris shop, the retail brand which invokes the atmosphere of the big French department stores, features all things French – from gourmet products to the world of beauty, with four corners dedicated to Chanel, Dior, Guerlain and Lancôme. The space also houses brands like Kiehl’s, The Body Shop and Essie (with a Nails Bar) and a designer space with labels such as Marc Jacobs and Serge Lutens.
Exiting Buy Duty Free Paris, passengers emerge onto a large central square lined with restaurant stands from Ladurée, Paul, La Maison du Chocolat, Fauchon as well as the first airport Fnac store. L’Avenue, designed to evoke the Avenue Montaigne in Paris features luxury brands. Fashion boutiques present include Bvlgari, Burberry, Gucci, Hermès, Prada, and - shortly - Dior, while a Rolex boutique is also present.
Created to offer a classic ambience, bubble panels created by Japanese companies paying tribute to champagne flutes are also good at reducing travel stress. Cocoon-shape chairs offer the best in relaxation. Aromatherapy shops will indulge your sense of therapy.
Over 600/700 people work here; 350 in customer service and 250 for ground services,
More than a fifth of European airports are either fully or partly privatized. At Aéroports de Paris, which is 52 percent state-owned, 37 percent of its revenue last year come from commercial activities. Air France flies out of MMIA and Nnamdi Azikiwe international aiport 7 times a week.