The man drove the wrong way down a highway and crashed into a barrier at the small airport, officials said.
This is not a typical day at Lyon International Airport, as a auto was seen careening across the dirt and onto the runway, followed by 20 police vehicles and at least one helicopter.
Before driving onto the runway, the man drove the into the glass doors of one of the terminals.
An amateur video posted online showed the auto smashing into the building with a bang and showed the view afterward of the smashed doors on either side. It showed the vehicle hitting a bump, going airborne and landing in a cloud of dust at Lyon's global Saint-Exupery airport.
After continuing for a few metres the driver then abandons the auto while it is still moving and tries to flee on foot.
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Nobody was injured in the incident but several flights had to be diverted, according to the flight-tracking application Flightradar24.
"Arriving at the Lyon-Bron airport, he forced his way through the security barriers before heading towards the airport of Lyon Saint-Exupéry where again, he forced the security barriers with his vehicle".
He dodges several police vehicles before being wrestled to the ground by officers. It was not clear whether the man was armed.
Local government press officer Christelle Monteagudo said the man's motives were unknown and that nothing was being ruled out. He also wasn't on the country's watchlist for suspected radicalization.
"While we were waiting on the runway to take off the pilot alerted us that there had been a "major incident" and the airport had been closed", Martial Leveque, 59, told AFP.