© Collection Air France.DR

Orly, from a local aerodrome to an international airport

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The story of Orly airport began on 1 January 1918. The plain bordering the village of Orly welcomed its first aircraft...

US air operations settled there as well as the French Navy. After World War II, the airfield was refurbished and restored to the French authorities in 1946 who entrusted its operation to a new public institution, Aéroport de Paris.

On 5 February 1946, Orly welcomed the first scheduled flight of the post-war period, a TWA Lockheed Constellation from New York, and became a stronghold of European-American air links. Air France made it its "long-haul" base and on 1 July 1946 inaugurated its own Paris-New York route by DC-4. The aerodrome was modernized.

Orly North was inaugurated in 1948. In 1952, it already welcomed 1.2 million passengers. That year, Air France left the historic Le Bourget Airport and transferred its entire operations to the south of Paris. Travellers checked in at the Invalides Terminal before going to Orly. Orly North quickly became saturated.

A new airport opened

On 24 February 1961, General de Gaulle inaugurated this building, which extends over 800 metres, designed by Henri Vicariot who opted for a glass and steel architecture. A showcase of France during the 30 boom years between 1950 and 1980, Orly was arguably Europe's most modern airport with its luxury terminal that highlighted quality air travel.
In 1965, with 5 million visitors, it became the most visited monument in France ahead of the Eiffel Tower!

In 1970 it welcomed the Company’s first 747. In 80s France, Orly South became synonymous with holidays in the sun. Then it became too small.

© Collection Air France.DR - Inside view of Orly airport

Orly continued to expand

The Orly West Terminal was inaugurated in 1971 for domestic flights. Thanks to Air France and Air Inter’s operations, Orly maintained its leading position. In 1996, Air France adopted the "hub and spoke" strategy at Roissy.

Roissy-Charles de Gaulle became its main hub, one of the most powerful in Europe. At Roissy, a broad and mainly international network but Orly remained above all the heart of the domestic network. With "La Navette", a service launched in 1996, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux were connected every hour or every half hour.

Air France intensifies its strategy at Orly

Today, Air France’s short-haul operations are based at Orly, with HOP! Air France operating the leading European domestic network. And Transavia, the Air France-KLM Group’s low-cost airline, operates scheduled medium-haul and charter flights from France and the Netherlands also on departure from Orly.

As from June 2016, the daily Paris-Orly – New York-JFK service will be operated by Boeing 777-200 in addition to the five daily frequencies from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

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