Prior to the opening of Charles de Gaulle Airport in March 1974, Orly was the main airport of Paris. Even with the shift of most international traffic to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Orly remains the busiest French airport for domestic traffic and the second busiest French airport overall in passenger traffic, with 33,120,685 passengers in 2018. The airport is operated by Groupe ADP under the brand Paris Aéroport. Since February 2018, the CEO of the airport has been Régis Lacote. Management of the airport, however, is solely under the authority of Aéroports de Paris, which also manages Charles de Gaulle Airport, Le Bourget Airport, and several smaller airports in the suburbs of Paris.
Originally known as Villeneuve-Orly Airport, the facility was opened in the southern suburbs of Paris in 1932 as a secondary airport to Le Bourget. Before this two huge airship hangars had been built there by the engineer Eugène Freyssinet from 1923. As a result of the Battle of France in 1940, Orly Airport was used by the occupying German Luftwaffe as a combat airfield, stationing various fighter and bomber units at the airport throughout the occupation.
After the Battle of Normandy and the retreat of German forces from the Paris area in August 1944, Orly was partially repaired by USAAF combat engineers and was used by Ninth Air Force as tactical airfield A-47. The 50th Fighter Group flew P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber aircraft from the airport until September, then liaison squadrons used the airfield until October 1945. The American United States Army Air Forces 1408th Army Air Force Base Unit was the primary operator at Orly Field until March 1947 when control was returned to the French Government. (The United States Air Force leased a small portion of the Airport to support Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at Rocquencourt). The Americans left in 1967 as a result of France's withdrawal from NATO's integrated military command, and all non-French NATO forces were asked to leave France.
In May 1958, Pan Am Douglas DC-7Cs flew to Los Angeles in 21 hr 56 min; TWA, Air France and Pan Am flew nonstop to New York in 14 hrs 10–15 min. Air France flew to Tokyo in 31 hr 5 min via Anchorage or 44 hr 45 min on a seven-stop Lockheed Constellation (1049G model) via India. Air France's ten flights a day to London were almost all Vickers Viscounts; the only other London flight was Alitalia's daily Douglas DC-6B (BEA was at Le Bourget). AOM French Airlines had its head office in Orly Airport Building 363 in Paray-Vieille-Poste. After AOM and Air Liberté merged in 2001, the new airline, Air Lib, occupied building 363.