A special forces policeman at Paris Orly airport after an attack on 18 March / Reuters

Diversions to Charles de Gaulle likely to cause added disruption

The shooting at Orly airport in Paris has triggered travel chaos, with passengers warned: “Ongoing special operation by the police at Paris-Orly. Please do not come to the airport.”

Orly is the second-busiest airport in France, after Paris Charles-de-Gaulle. It has an extensive network of domestic flights, as well as no-frills European services and a wide range of long-haul leisure routes.

The straightforward part of the operation is keeping departing flights on the ground. A bigger concern is flights heading for the airport, particularly long-range services.

Man shot after trying to seize weapon at Paris airport

Flightradar24, the tracking website, reported: “After an earlier shooting incident at Paris Orly Airport, flights are now diverting to Charles de Gaulle Airport.”

Dozen of flights connect the UK with Orly airport, including BA from Heathrow, Transavia from Luton and Edinburgh, Vueling from Luton and Flybe from Southampton.

British Airways cancelled the departure from Heathrow to Orly due at 10.45am, and the inbound flight early this afternoon.

A British Airways spokesperson said: “We are doing all we can to assist our customers while the airport authorities at Paris Orly investigate the incident. The safety and security of our customers and colleagues is always our priority.”

On a typical day Orly handles around 85,000 passengers. But today was expected to be unusually busy because of a shut-down of the main Paris railway terminus to the south of France. Gare de Lyon is closed all weekend while the signalling system is updated.

An added issue is the France-Wales Rugby match, which has led to extra pressure on the transport system.

The incident occurred four days before the first anniversary of the attack at Brussels airport in which suicide bombers killed 32 people in the check-in area.