Regional airports reopen in France as lockdown eases
Ross Cullen in Nantes

Airports in France that were closed during the lockdown are reopening as the country continues to ease restrictions put in place to control the spread of COVID-19.

Nantes airport in the west of France and Biarritz on the southwest coast opened on Monday, with Lille in the north slated to restart flights on 15 June and Bordeaux on 6 July.

The airport in Nantes is seen as the gateway to the western Atlantic region.

It had a successful 2019 with the opening of an easyJet base and passenger traffic was up 17 percent on the year before.

Then the coronavirus pandemic struck and the airport suffered a 90 percent drop in normal activity.

"Commercial flights were stopped, so this sector was greatly impacted by the pandemic and some staff were furloughed," Cyril Girot, director of the airport, told CGTN Europe.

Despite the end to commercial flights, the airport was able to keep basic operations going.

"We maintained some activities, like cargo flights for medical equipment plus transferring patients and healthcare workers."

The airport has put in place a "Protect each other" campaign, which includes hand sanitizers on the walls, regular deep-cleaning in the terminal and social-distancing measures on the floor.

On Monday, Nantes had its first flight in and first flight out since lockdown was relaxed.

More than a million Britons and 700,000 Dutch tourists visited the region around Nantes in 2019 but European travel restrictions are still in place.

Regional airports are hoping they will get a boost from the French public.

The prime minister has urged French citizens to take "staycations" this year and spend their summer holidays inside the country.


Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19