Lyon Opens Terminal 3

Terminal 3’s newly-built satellite will become part of the airport’s T1-T3 project. (KEY-Caroline Cook)

Caroline Cook visited the new facility at Lyon’s airport and learnt about development plans for the future.

Terminal 3’s newly-built satellite will become part of the airport’s T1-T3 project. (KEY-Caroline Cook)

On June 28, Aéroports de Lyon (ADL) officially opened the new Terminal 3 (T3) at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport.  The 134,550sq ft (12,500m2) facility was unveiled by ADL’s Chairman, Philippe Bernand, who said it “was designed to accommodate low-cost traffic and its characteristics”, adding that the terminal is “simple, but not cheap”.
The airport, which handles a total of 8.4 million passengers per annum (mppa), is well known as an Air France-KLM hub.  In 2008, it became an easyJet base, and is now proud to welcome one additional based aircraft a year from the low-cost UK carrier.
According to Mr Bernand, the €24.2 million (US$29.4m) T3 was built following “constructive, positive discussions” with airlines.  Since becoming operational at the end of 2011, it has served passengers for easyJet, transavia.com and AirAsia.  “We want to be a low-stress airport, not a low-cost airport,” added Mr Bernand.
The chairman explained how ADL was committed to providing excellent customer service to its passengers, particularly with the introduction of airport helpers.  These individuals are available to give “human access” to travellers, rather than referring them to computer-based assistance, he said, adding that the concept’s aim is to ‘de-stress’ the airport environment.  “We want to stay human-sized.  We believe that the best gift you can give to passengers is your smile.”
The underground corridor is bright and airy, with blue floor lighting and large posters on the walls. (O Chassignole – ADL)

Capable of handling up to 2.5 mppa, the new facility comprises 12 check-in desks, six security lanes (with room for two more) and two baggage carousels in the arrivals hall.  After passing through an underground corridor featuring two moving walkways, passengers come to a 53,820sq ft (5,000m2) satellite containing two shops, a restaurant and ten gates for medium-haul aircraft.  Six of the gates are for non-Schengen flights, for which passengers make their way through a further checkpoint in order to reach them.
Pastel-coloured seating systems are dotted around the terminal, many overlooking the apron and runway through the expansive surrounding windows.
Each gate has a pre-boarding room which holds 25 seats, including those for premium passengers – which I felt was a rather low amount when you take into account that most flights carry many more travellers than that.  However, this may not be a problem as each pre-boarding room is designed to facilitate a turnaround of only 20 minutes for each low-cost aircraft, so ideally passengers will not have to stand in line for too long.
Moreover, the terminal did not seem to be welcoming the high volume of passengers for which it was designed.  I was told by airport staff that peak times are usually during the early morning and early evening, so my mid-afternoon visit may not have witnessed the facility’s true potential.
As with many new developments, T3 has been built with a focus on its environmental impact.  It was constructed within the framework of France’s high environmental quality (HQE) certification which included the support of an HQE assistant project owner.  Two dynamic thermal simulations – where the behaviour and reactions of a building are analysed in detail, using real climactic data – were conducted, co-financed by the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME).  This allowed ADL to calculate the building’s environmental performance by defining heat gain and loss scenarios, such as passenger flows and lighting management, and by looking at the structure’s characteristics, such as walls and insulation.
The bright seating adds some colour to the otherwise basic décor of the terminal. (O Chassignole – ADL)

Ultimately, T3 is just the first step in a much bigger journey for ADL.  Last year, the airport welcomed almost 1.8 million low-cost passengers, amounting to more than 20% of Lyon’s air traffic.  This number is expected to rise to 35% or higher within five years.  In preparation for this increase, ADL is in the midst of designing its upcoming €200m ($243.2m) T1-T3 project.
Currently, some of the new T3’s facilities (the aforementioned check-in hall, arrivals hall and security) are housed in a ‘temporary’ structure, which will be in place for the next four years.  The tent-like covering does unfortunately make this area and the connecting corridors rather dark, in total contrast to the completed satellite which is flooded with natural light. Instead, the developers have done their best to brighten up the corridors with coloured, translucent panels that let in some light and floor-to-ceiling posters showing future developments.
However, in 2016 the temporary elements will be demolished on completion of the 430,556sq ft (40,000m2) first phase of T1-T3, which will then be connected to the remaining underground corridor and satellite.  This first phase is projected to cost €110m ($133.8m).
With the entire project expected to be operational by 2020, the new 753,474sq ft (70,000m2) T1-T3 will extend the existing Terminal 1 to create a 161,460sq ft (15,000m2) public area, including 43,056sq ft (4,000m2) of shops and services.  Six additional medium-haul gates will be added, along with an additional gate capable of handling the Airbus A380.  By 2020, the new areas are expected to have a capacity of 10mppa, bringing the airport’s total to 15mppa.
A design rendering of the future T1-T3, of which the first phase is due for completion in 2016. (ADL)

ADL is clearly putting its best efforts into accommodating its growing passengers’ and airlines’ needs.  The permanent sections of T3 – although lacking in creative décor – are clean and accessible, with easy directions and routing, and great views for the aviation enthusiast.  This certainly makes up for the temporary building beforehand, which is in danger of detracting from the intended passenger experience.  Future plans are looking brighter, and by 2016 the airport will be in an altogether different league with the introduction of T1-T3.