Airline promises free flights to Paris for those helping with the Notre Dame restoration
Efforts are underway to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after the Gothic structure was devastated by fire on Monday. Donors have promised more than €700 million in reconstruction funds and now Air France-KLM wants to offer free flights to Paris to those assisting with the project.
French officials are still assessing the damage to Notre Dame and its contents after a fire engulfed the 850-year-old building on Monday. The blaze toppled the cathedral’s spire, destroyed two-thirds of its roof and inflicted extensive damage to its limestone structure. The fear of losing a national symbol that defined the Parisian skyline for centuries sparked a flood of pledges in monetary donations from France’s business elite to rebuild the Gothic masterpiece. Work will soon get underway with President Emmanuel Macron hoping Notre Dame can be fully restored ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, although experts warn it might take decades.
As tributes and donations to the cathedral continue to pour in from around the world, Air France has offered free flights for “all official partners” involved in the reconstruction. In a statement, airline group Air France-KLM called the cathedral a “symbol of French history, well known throughout the world”.
“All Air France and Air France-KLM teams around the world have been deeply affected and saddened since (Monday),” the airline said in statement. “Air France will provide free transport for all official partners involved in the reconstruction of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.” The group said it will also set up a voluntary donations fund for its customers to help finance the reconstruction work.
But first, France needs to decide what the newly-rebuilt Notre Dame will look like. The country is currently debating whether to rebuild the cathedral almost exactly as it was or update it with some modern flourishes. The government kicked off that debate on Wednesday by announcing an international competition to design a replacement for the towering spire. French prime minister Édouard Philippe said the competition would address the question of whether, “as is often the case for the evolution of patrimony and cathedrals, Notre Dame should be given a new spire adapted to the techniques and challenges of our era.”
Authorities have no estimation yet of the total cost of renovation work but Mr Philippe said: “this is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility.”
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