November 26, 2015 / 2:50 PM / 3 years ago

Paris airport traffic down after attacks, security tighter

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris airports have seen a reduction in traffic since the attacks that killed 130 people in the French capital this month, while security has been expanded, a senior executive said.

An armed French soldier patrols at Nice international airport in Nice, France, November 17, 2015 as security increases after last Friday's series of deadly attacks in Paris. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

“We are seeing an impact on traffic today, but it is too soon to say whether there is a longer-term trend,” said Edward Arkwright, finance director of Aeroports de Paris, which operates both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

He also said Paris airports had further strengthened security, already on high alert since shootings at a Paris magazine and kosher supermarket in January, following the attacks and had extended tests for liquid explosives to staff.

Mid-November, which follows the end of a school break in France, usually brings a lull in traffic.

Industry experts are focusing on whether demand driven away by the attacks, particularly from leisure travelers, will rebound during the normally busy Christmas and New Year season.

“The period from mid-November to mid-February is generally the slackest period of the year, with the exception of the end-year holidays,” Arkwright told Reuters in an interview.

Travel information firm ForwardKeys said on Tuesday that new flight bookings to Paris fell by 27 percent in the week following the attacks, compared to the same period last year.

Air France has also warned of an impact on travel.

Analysts say demand recovered relatively quickly after urban attacks in Madrid and London, in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

Only the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, in which 3,000 people died following multiple airline hijackings, caused a sustained drop in air travel demand, Arkwright noted.

ADP plans to publish its November traffic figures on Dec 14.

Its traffic grew 3.9 percent in the first 10 months of the year and the part-privatized airports operator is forecasting at least 3 percent growth for the year as a whole.

Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer Writing by Tim Hepher; Editing by James Regan and Sudip Kar-Gupta

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