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Sarkozy opens new superjumbo terminal

President Nicolas Sarkozy opened a new terminal at Paris's main airport on Tuesday which will cater to 8.5 million passengers a year and was designed to handle the forthcoming Airbus superjumbo.
/ Source: Reuters

President Nicolas Sarkozy opened a new terminal at Paris's main airport on Tuesday which will cater to 8.5 million passengers a year and was designed to handle the forthcoming Airbus superjumbo.

Sarkozy promised to encourage other major infrastructure projects during his presidency to enable France to remain competitive.

"A country that doesn't have projects is a country without ambition, a country that does not have a future," Sarkozy said after visiting the glass building at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, which cost $868 million (645 million euros) to build.

"We are going to rediscover great projects and we are going to mobilize national forces behind those great projects," said Sarkozy, evoking the memory of the ambitious architectural achievements of former President Francois Mitterrand.

Paris airports operator Aeroports de Paris (ADP) says the new terminal area, which is the size of 40 soccer fields, will be able to process 26 planes simultaneously when it is fully operational later this year, including six A380 superjumbos.

The 555-seat, double-decker A380 will be the world's largest passenger plane when it comes into service later this year.

The expanded Roissy will help ADP pursue its ambition to become Europe's main hub and Sarkozy said it was important for the entire Paris region, known as the Ile-de-France, to have major airports.

"If the Ile-de-France wants to remain a financial center that counts, if it wants to remain a scientific center, if it wants to remain neck and neck with London for attracting corporate headquarters, it must develop Roissy," he said.

ADP handled 56.6 million passengers last year at Roissy while its official capacity is just 47 million, ADP's CEO Pierre Graff told daily Le Parisien.

"That can't go on. We are going to invest 2.7 billion euros in the next five years to increase our capacity by 20 million passengers between now and 2010," he said.

The new boarding area, called the "Parisien Gallery", will be reserved for national flag carrier Air France and its international partners in the Skyteam alliance.