The Paris airport authority, Aeroports de Paris, is aggressively seeking new freighter operators by offering them significant discounts.

The move is part of a larger effort to steal market share from competing European airports."We are trying to become No. 1 in Europe as a distribution center," said Jean-Alain Ress, Aeroports de Paris cargo general manager, in an interview here this week.

The Paris airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, together are the third largest in Europe interms of cargo handling. In 1988 they processed 833,000 tons of freight. The authority forecasts annual growth of about 10 percent through the year 2000.

To attract additional business, the Paris airport authority recently cut landing fees for some freighter flights. Specifically, the authority reduced by 50 percent the charge to land up to three freighters a week, Mr. Ress said. It costs about $3,600 to land a fully loaded Boeing 747 freighter at one of the Paris airports.

To win additional traffic, Aeroports de Paris also has waived landing fees for additional freighter flights, those beginning service to the facility after March 31. These flights pay no landing fee for a year.

Mr. Ress readily admits that the Paris airport authority is taking these steps to strengthen its competitive position when vying for cargo traffic with Amsterdam; Brussels; Cologne; Frankfurt, the industry leader; and London, the runner-up.

The Paris airports have some strong selling points, Mr. Ress said.

Charles de Gaulle, for example, has no nighttime noise restrictions like those limiting freighter operations at many competing airports. That's due, in large measure, to planners taking noise abatement into account in the late 1960s when the facility was designed. CDG opened in 1974.

Also, CDG is well-configured for freight handling. Container stations, customs, freight forwarder and broker facilities are located adjacent to the apron where freighters are parked.

Aeroports de Paris, in fact, will spend $270 million during the five years ending 1993 to upgrade and enlarge freight-related handling and storage facilities, Mr. Ress said.

In 1989 the airport authority earned $49.4 million on revenue of $839.3 million.

In addition, airport officials are seeking to link CDG's cargo area with the French high-speed passenger train that also will carry small package shipments. A stop already is planned for the nearby passenger terminal.

Aeroports de Paris has decided, however, to hold off temporarily on start- up of a community telecommunications system within the airport community. The effort is being delayed until some of the Charles de Gaulle's largest tenants - Air France, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Lufthansa German Airlines - coordinate a cargo data sharing network that they recently agreed to form.