On this Thursday morning at the end of March, between drizzle and mist, Ryanair's Boeing 737 Max landed a little half an hour ahead of the tarmac at Beauvais-Tillé airport.
Or "Paris-Beauvais", as the display claims, even though 85 kilometers and an hour and a half by shuttle separate the platform of the Oise and the Porte Maillot in Paris (17th century).
As soon as the aircraft is in place, the passengers get off, thanks to a small retractable staircase that unfolds at the front.
"This is a specific feature of Ryanair planes, to which we only supply and charge a single staircase, for the rear," observes Edo Friart, the director of the airport.
In seven minutes, all the passengers and their few items of checked baggage left the machine.
Quick glance on board, no cleaning, and new travelers are already on board, bag on their back and suitcase with wheels in hand, while the recharging of electricity and fuel ends.
It took less than thirty minutes before the aircraft was put back on the track, direction Porto (Portugal).
A speed that allows each aircraft in the Irish fleet to perform a maximum of daily rotations and helps to lower prices.
“In terms of time / price ratio, it was worth it to come to Beauvais, assesses Carole, 51, who lives in Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine).
I took more than an hour and a half to come by shuttle when I am three quarters of an hour from Orly, but I paid 80 euros, with the seat reserved and my cabin baggage included.
It was 117 euros just the ticket at Transavia.
»Sandra, Geraldine and Sarah, who reserved their places for Porto two days later to attend their aunt's funeral, did not get the same price.
“We paid 175 euros each round trip and we just discovered that we must add another 20 euros for cabin baggage, it's expensive,” laments Geraldine, who has also just bought her sandwich for lunch on board.
“When we booked, it was 500 euros with Air France, notes Sarah.
But my brother, who did it yesterday, was able to leave for 106 euros.
“Despite the confinement, this flight to Porto was almost full: 144 passengers with a capacity of 189 seats.
In the past, a canvas tent for a boarding hall
“Because of the Covid and travel restrictions, we currently accommodate between one and three flights a day from Monday to Thursday, ten a day from Friday to Sunday,” notes Edo Friart.
This is 10% of the usual traffic.
In 2019, Beauvais airport recorded 4 million passengers.
Excluding the crisis, three quarters of traffic is handled by Ryanair, 20% by Wizz Air and the little that remains by Blue Air, Volotea, Sky Up and Air Moldova.
With the exception of the latter, all are low cost companies.
It is thanks to low-cost that the small airport of 1930, used as a German air base during the Second World War, has been able to build its commercial success for twenty-five years.
In 1997, the Irish Ryanair was the first to bet on this tarmac, which offered a tent canvas as a boarding hall and a labyrinth of potholes as a parking lot.
While two terminals with shops, three paved car parks, a bus station, an all-weather runway and a new control tower now allow planes and their passengers to take off even in fog, the philosophy has remained the same.
"We have simple, efficient, human-sized infrastructures," Edo Friart slice.
The planes do not roll half an hour before reaching the runway, passengers park, go through controls and board within a few tens of meters.
This facility is the new luxury.
Coronavirus and air transport: "The worst crisis since World War II"
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It's a big saving as well.
“Between 25 euros and 30 euros per ticket are spent on taxes and services,” estimates the director.
Here, the rates charged to a company are two to three times cheaper than at another Parisian airport.
“To the point that, despite the Covid crisis, Ryanair has decided to keep its base open in December 2020. The only one that has seen the light of day in France in this annus horribilis of air transport.
“This is excellent news, welcomes Edo Friart.
This will make it possible to launch new frequencies, new destinations and around thirty crew members will be installed on site.
“How many millions of euros in subsidies has the company touched to put two planes to sleep in the Oise?
“These data are confidential,” says the manager.
But they are framed by the rules of the European Commission.
And when Ryanair commits to bringing back traffic, it does so down to the comma.
According to a 2019 study, the airport would generate 1,200 direct and indirect jobs and 95 million euros in economic benefits.