French government creates €15 billion bailout for aviation industry

The French government on Tuesday pledged €15 billion for the country's aviation industry, where thousands of jobs are on the line as the coronavirus crisis hammers the travel industry.

French government creates €15 billion bailout for aviation industry
Photo: AFP

“We are declaring a state of emergency to save our aeronautics industry so that it can be more competitive,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a press conference in Paris.

“If we hadn't intervened right away, a third of the jobs in the sector would have disappeared… that's around 100,000 of the 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in the sector,” he added.

The southwestern French city of Toulouse hosts the headquarters of pan-European aircraft maker Airbus, which for decades has supported hundreds of suppliers and service providers in the region.

But orders are being cancelled or put on hold indefinitely as airlines worldwide ground planes amid the travel restrictions, with many fearing it could take years to recover in case of strict new hygiene rules – such as requiring middle seats to remain empty.

Airlines have parked up to 90 percent of their aircraft, some 4.5 million flights have been cancelled so far, and an estimated $314 billion in revenues will be lost this year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The International Civil Aviation Organisation, for its part, estimates the pandemic will reduce the number of airline passengers by 1.5 billion by the end of the year.

The French government has already announced that Air France-KLM, which posted a €1.8-billion loss in the first quarter, will get €7 billion in loans either directly from the state, or backed by it.

That money will allow it to go through with a purchase of 60 Airbus A220 airliners and 38 long-haul A350 jets. Both planes offer fuel efficiencies and fewer carbon emissions, a growing concern among environmentally-conscious flyers.

The French state and Airbus, as well as Dassault Aviation, Thales and Safran, will contribute €200 million each to a fund for small and midsize firms, in particular to help them invest in carbon-reduction technologies.

The plan also includes €1.5 billion to spur research on a future “carbon neutral plane” over the next three years, with a goal of having the plane in operation by 2035, Le Maire said.

Defence Minister Florence Parly, who attended Tuesday's press conference alongside Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne, said €600 million of planned military orders would be accelerated, including the purchase of three Airbus A330s that will be converted to refuelling planes, and eight Caracal troop transport helicopters.

The military will also double its orders reserved for small and midsize firms, to some €100 million, to develop light surveillance planes and drones, “ensuring 1,300 jobs for the next three years,” Parly said.

Le Maire brushed off concerns that the United States or other countries would protest the state aid as unfair help, amid a long-running feud at the World Trade Organisation over subsidies to Airbus and its American rival Boeing.

“We're not going to be the village idiots who let hundreds of thousands of jobs be destroyed, and the skills they represent… by saying 'sorry, those are the rules, we have no choice',” he said.

“We play by the international rules, but we also note that the American government is massively helping its aviation industry, which is perfectly understandable, and it seems that China is doing the same,” he said.

Governments worldwide have provided airlines with $123 billion to help weather the coronavirus storm, the IATA said last month, though it warned the assistance was adding to surging debt levels that would eventually need to be repaid.

The support for the aviation sector comes after French President Emmanuel Macron promised last month €8 billion for the auto sector, with a focus on developing the electric vehicle market.

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The Paris Metro and RER closures in August you need to know

A month of discontent, delays and disruption is in store for anyone using the Metro or RER services in Paris this August, as the capital steps up preparations for next year's Olympics.

The Paris Metro and RER closures in August you need to know

Line closures and maintenance delays are routine in Paris in the summer, when passenger numbers are down because many people are away on holiday. But the amount of work is higher than normal this year, with improvements planned on almost every major line in and out of the capital.

Nine metro lines, as well as three tramways, will be affected throughout the summer, with the schedules for certain major routes like the RER commuter train system set to also be disrupted.

Here’s what we know about line closures in the coming weeks in AUgust:


Line 4 

No service between August 12th and 17th from Porte-de-Clignancourt to Barbès-Rochechouart. 

Line 5

No service until August 11th between the stations Gare-du-Nord and République.

Line 9

The entirety of Line 9 will be closed on September 3rd.

Line 11 

Closed on the following Sunday, August 27th, for work on the extension to Rosny-sous-Bois. The line will also close at 10pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until the end of September. 

Line 12

Closed from August 2nd to 8th between the stations Front-Populaire and Jules-Joffrin.

Line 13

The Porte-de-Saint-Ouen station will be closed from until August 18th. 

Line 14

Until August 11th, no services will run on the entirety of the line.


Line T2

From August 12th to 27th, the tram will not run between Pont-de-Bezons and La Défense.

From August 12th to 18th, traffic will also be halted between Porte-de-Versailles and Issy-Val-de-Seine.

Line T3A

Until August 11th, traffic will be halted between Porte-d’Italie and Porte de Vincennes.


Europe’s busiest railway line will be closed from Nation and Val-de-Fontenay and Fontenay-sous-Bois stations from August 9th to 18th; and between Cergy-le-Haut and Conflans-Fin-d’Oise stations from August 5th to 20th.

RER B North

The line will be closed between Gare-du-Nord and Mitry-Claye on August 12th, 13th and 14th. 

On September 23rd and 24th, the section between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Mitry-Claye will not be served.

Replacement buses will be in operation, but users are warned to expect delays.

RER B South

The station Bagneux will remain closed until August 27th.

Between Fontaine-Michalon and Massy-Palaiseau, from August 5th to August 20th, traffic will be halted to carry out modernisation work on the Chartres and Gallardon bridges. 

All trains will terminate at Fontaine-Michalon and Massy-Palaiseau. A replacement bus will serve Massy-Palaiseau, Massy-Verrières, Les Baconnets and Fontaine-Michalon stations.

Until August 4th, traffic will be interrupted to allow completion of the Massy-Valenton-Ouest project between La Croix de Berny and Massy-Palaiseau, and to continue work on the Chartres and Gallardon bridges. 

All trains will terminate at La Croix-de-Berny and Massy-Palaiseau. A shuttle bus will serve the remaining stations.

The branch between Bourg-la-Reine and Robinson will be closed until August 26th. All trains will terminate at Bourg-la-Reine. Substitutions will be made at Bourg-la-Reine, Sceaux, Fontenay-aux-Roses and Robinson stations.


The Austerlitz – Javel – Henri-Martin section will be closed until August 26th.

No trains will run between Massy and Pont-de-Rungis, either, during the replacement of the Gallardon rail bridge in Massy, and for the Massy southern rail bypass project.


Disruption can be expected on weekends, until August 26th, in particular on morning / early afternoon trains going into Paris (until 2:55pm); and for the other direction (leaving Paris) after 3pm.


The Challes-Gournay station and Vaires-Torcy stations will experience several disruptions.

From August 5th to 6th, the Challes-Gournay will closure (in both directions), and neither will the Vaires-Torcy station (for those going towards Paris).

The same will go for August 11th to 12th, as well as August 19th to 20th, and finally August 26th to 27th.


Line H

From August 5th to 6th traffic will not run between Ermont-Eaubonne and Valmondois; as well as Pontoise and Persan-Beaumont.

Line J

There will be several disruptions on this line. Until August 13th, traffic will be interrupted between  Épône-Mézières and Mantes-la-Jolie. 

From August 5th to 6th, August 19th to 20th, and 26th to 27th, trains will not run between Les-Mureaux and Mantes-la-Jolie.

From August 12th to 13th, August 19th to 20th, and August 26th to 27th, traffic will not run between Paris Saint-Lazare and Saint Cloud – Garches – Marnes-la-Coquette.

Line L

From August 5th to 20th, traffic will not run between Maisons-Laffitte and Cergy-le-Haut.

Line P

Until August 13th, traffic will be halted between Plaisir-Grignon and Mantes-la-Jolie.

Until August 27th, traffic will be halted between Meaux and La-Ferté-Milon.

And until August 27th, the Nangis station will be closed.

Line U

Traffic between La Défense and Suresnes will be halted three times – from August 12th to 13th; August 19th to 20th; and finally August 26th to 27th.