Global connectivity, seamless travel, good-old retail therapy and French culture, are the attractions at Charles de Gaulle Hub in Paris, France. Running an effective airport hub that exceeds the expectations of even the most cynical travellers, with minimal waiting time, simplified and harmonised connections, lounges, offering unique and award-winning catering service, as well as other exclusive services adapted to all passengers is no walk-in-the-park. Little wonder, Aeroport De Paris (ADP), the airport managing company rolled out drums to celebrate 20 years of excellent service. Omolola Itayemi writes
The demand for airport hubs is increasing daily and serious cities around the world understand this, and are building effective airport hubs, which have the capacity to meet the pressing demand for international and domestic travel that characterises all growing economies. Charles De Gaulle airport is no exception with its Air France Hub which clocked 20 on 9th February.
A powerful and efficient Hub
Recognised as the most powerful hub in Europe, it was inaugurated on March 31, 1996 with a flight to Geneva. The Air France Hub control center, at the heart of traffic management, ensures with absolute precision the 1,000 daily arrivals and departures of Air France flights at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. To cope with the growing number of customers, Air France has expanded from 1,886 connections in 1996 to 25,000 in 2016. Almost 6,500 employees of the Air France Hub are represented in complementary sectors by adapting, innovating, and above all by engaging with customers.
Air France is constantly investing and leveraging its strengths to improve its operational performance. It’s no empty boast; the figures are there to see. Whether it’s a 2-hour connection or it’s a layover, there are over 100,000 passengers passing through the Hub daily and 25,000 weekly connecting opportunities. The Air France Hub has constantly reinvented itself to offer its customers the very best. This continuous search for performance for its customers has resulted in the implementation of new connecting banks in the first quarter of 2017. Organised into seven connecting banks throughout the day, this revision allows Air France to increase its traffic, while guaranteeing more fluid airport access, thanks to a better distribution of activity during the day. This remarkable organisation allows the company to operate 60 flights every hour.
Interestingly, all the activities of Air France and its SkyTeam partners are grouped in the eastern part of the airport. Terminals 2F and 2G are dedicated to European flights (Schengen). Flights for destinations other than Schengen Europe leave from terminal 2E.
Channels adapted to connecting passengers reduce their transit time by 10 minutes. Finding their service almost seamless is no magic with 24/7 self-service kiosks to save time by printing your boarding pass or baggage tag, 58 automatic baggage drop-off counters to drop off your baggage in 30 seconds, 100,000 bags handled daily, 56 self-boarding gates to board an A320 with 178 passengers in 12 minutes and 2,500 tablets used by Air France ground staff to provide customers with a quick and personalised response wherever they are at the airport.
Like most high-end airports, free WiFi is available throughout the airport, offered by Paris Aéroport and there is dedicated WiFi offered by Air France in all its lounges
With its digital customer experience, the modernisation of its infrastructure and lounges, the evolution of its services, tailored for each passenger and the range of products and services offered by SkyTeam and Paris Aéroport, Air France’s Hub at Paris-Charles de Gaulle meets the company’s levels of excellence and its strategic ambitions.
The Air France Hub combines serenity and comfort in an airport to offer the best travel experience on arrival at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Hub.
The lounges, a Time to Unwind Before Boarding
It’s no secret, the comfort that could be found in high-end airport lounges are pretty much the same all over the world and very minimal too. Of course, airlines are acting in their own self-interest by furnishing their customers with massage therapists, cigar lounges, and private concierges to arrange restaurant reservations and theater tickets. After all, flights are fuller than ever, and delays are rampant—so to keep travelers satisfied, airlines need to keep raising the comfort bar and Air France is doing just that.
Lounges are no longer just a spot for travellers to wait in between connections; they’ve become an oasis away from the masses. With a minimal waiting time, simplified and harmonised connections, lounges offering unique and award-winning catering service, as well as other exclusive services adapted to all passengers, the Air France Hub combines serenity and comfort in an airport to offer the best travel experience on arrival at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Hub.
Alongside the move upmarket of its products and services on board, Air France is continuing the transformation of its airport lounges for ever greater comfort.
At Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport, Air France has seven Business lounges and one La Première lounge. The Business lounges offer its 2,300,000 annual passengers: – Free Wi-Fi access; – Hot or cold snacks, as well as an assortment of self-service drinks; – Clarins offers customers free beauty treatments in the long-haul lounges.
The La Première lounge, a world-renowned lounge: – Skytrax award for best First Class lounge in 2015; – Skytrax award for best catering in a First Class lounge in 2016; – Wines and dishes from a menu prepared by chef Alain Ducasse to discover the tastes of a renowned restaurant with table service; – an area dedicated to well-being run by Biological Research, to enjoy a unique moment to unwind.
Air France is continuing to invest in its lounges and will open a brand new Business lounge in terminal 2G on March 1, 2017.
Customers at the heart of the Hub
SkyPriority, Dedicated Services and Exclusive Benefits
SkyPriority is a coordinated global ground service. Easily recognisable by its signage and dedicated counters, SkyPriority offers many advantages, including priority at check-in, boarding and at security checkpoints at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport.
This attention is an illustration of the joint work of the 20 SkyTeam member airlines to improve the service offered to their customers. This service is available at more than 1,000 airports worldwide.
Multicultural teams on ground
With six teams of multilingual agents present every day speaking Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Tamil, Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese and literary Arabic, language is definitely not a barrier. Their understanding of the language enables Air France to be closer to its customers from all over the world in Paris, by creating a more spontaneous and natural reception.
Kids solo, a warm welcome at any age
Air France offers an assistance service dedicated to the 303,000 children traveling alone each year on the company’s routes. In 2016, 59,431 young travellers left from the Air France Hub at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Since April 2016, a new Kids Solo connections area welcomes young travellers at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. More than 300 sqm with four rooms: a games room equipped with Sony Playstation and table football for the older ones, a reading room for 10/17 year-olds, an activities area for younger children and a rest area.
Saphir: dedicated assistance to people with disabilities
In addition to the Paris Aéroport services, the Saphir service is designed to facilitate travel for Air France customers with handicaps or reduced mobility by providing them with seamless services.
Air France also attracts connecting train/air traffic thanks to the presence at the heart of its Hub of the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport station served by the TGV, the Thalys to Brussels, and the regional express network (RER). The Air France hub at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and the KLM hub at Amsterdam-Schiphol are linked by 12 regular daily flights. Flight schedules are adapted to increase connecting opportunities at both hubs. The networks of Air France and KLM therefore promote 320 destinations in 114 countries.
With 40 million passengers choosing to pass through Paris-Charles de Gaulle Hub every year, there is definitely a lot to cheer about.