Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: SEVERINE DABADIE / ONLY FRANCE / ONLY FRANCE VIA AFP 17:12 p.m., October 20, 2023

On Friday, the Minister for Transport announced that eighteen airports in the regions have been targeted by new false bomb threats, ten of which have been evacuated. Clément Beaune promised that the "big morons" behind these messages would be punished.

Eighteen airports in the regions were targeted on Friday by new false bomb threats, ten of which were evacuated, the Minister Delegate for Transport announced, promising that the "big morons" behind these messages would be punished. "Since Wednesday, we have seen an increase in alerts, false bomb threats at our airports. And I want to say it very clearly, the clever little ones or the little jokers who engage in this kind of game are in fact big morons, even big delinquents," Clément Beaune said at a press conference.

A few hours before the start of the All Saints' Day holidays, air transport was disrupted for the third day in a row on Friday. As of Wednesday, 17 airports had received threats, 15 of which were evacuated; On Thursday, 25 were alerted and evacuation measures were taken in 19 of them, Clément Beaune revealed from the headquarters of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) in Paris.

'Unacceptable situation'

The alerts on Friday, following the receipt of threatening emails, are "generally over as we speak", the minister added shortly after 15:15 pm, deploring nevertheless an "unacceptable situation". Each airport is invited to file a complaint for each case of alert received, and the matter is referred to the courts, he said. "Let all those who think they are making a bad joke, scaring people, know that this is an offence that is very seriously and very heavily punished, that they will be identified, and each of them will be punished. Two to three years of imprisonment are incurred and several tens of thousands of euros in fines," said Clément Beaune: "we will not hesitate, obviously, to apply them."

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He did not give the names of the platforms concerned on Friday, but a previous report from an airport source reporting 14 facilities affected mentioned Bordeaux, Béziers, Lille, Beauvais, Tarbes, Nantes, Brest, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Lyon-Bron, Pau, Nice, Biarritz and Rennes. Many airports, including Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Toulouse, Carcassonne and Brest, later confirmed that they had been threatened, as well as Perpignan and Basel-Mulhouse.

Less severe disruptions

Since the beginning of this wave, the operation of the major airports serving Paris, namely Charles-de-Gaulle and Orly, has not been affected, but Clément Beaune revealed on Friday that these platforms had received threats on Wednesday, without it being deemed necessary to evacuate them. In the presence of the commander of the Air Transport Gendarmerie (GTA), General Philippe Mirabaud and the Director General of Civil Aviation Damien Cazé, the minister defended a reaction "on a case-by-case basis", "adapted and proportionate to each situation", taken by the prefects according to "the reality of the threat and the security conditions".

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According to the flight operations dashboard on the DGAC website, the disruptions were less severe on Friday than the day before, when some airports suffered flight delays of up to three hours. The platform suffering the most delays on Friday was Nice Côte-d'Azur, but these are the consequences of the bad weather affecting the Alpes-Maritimes, according to the traffic watchdog Eurocontrol. The latter, in a note to airlines, asked them to be ready to adapt their flight plans at short notice due to "security problems" in French airport terminals.

On Thursday evening, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said there had been 18 arrests in 48 hours in connection with the alerts, which also affected schools and tourist sites. The Palace of Versailles was evacuated on Friday noon for the fifth time this week following yet another alert, the establishment announced on its X account (ex-Twitter), before reopening shortly before 16:00 p.m. These alerts have been multiplying for several days in France, especially since the jihadist attack that cost the life of teacher Dominique Bernard in Arras.