France mulls short-haul flights ban

A high speed train passing a viaduct at Mediterranean Sea.

The French government is looking to ban short-haul domestic flights that would take less than two and a half hours via bus or train.

Lawmakers voted in favour of the ban in April 2021 and it is expected to come into effect this month.

The measure is part of the French government’s plan to reduce carbon emissions and was the result of a French citizens’ climate convention established by President Emmanuel Macron in response to the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement.

About 12 per cent of France’s domestic flights will be affected by the ban according to the Guardian, which also noted that carbon emissions for each passenger on a domestic flight is 70 per cent higher than long haul routes, which is six times higher than if the trip was taken via rail.

Flights from Paris to Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon are expected to be axed as a result of the ban.

Back in May 2020, the French government bailed out its national carrier, Air France, to the tune of €7 billion ($10.4 billion) after it was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic on the condition that it scraps some of its domestic flights.

The country’s Minister for the Economy at the time, Bruno Le Maire, told local radio Air France should become “the most environmentally respectful airline” and that the pandemic gave an opportunity to “reinvent our model of economic development to ensure it is more respectful of the environment”.

“It is obvious that today a number of domestic routes are no longer justified,” Le Maire said, according to the BBC.

“When you can travel by train in less than two and a half hours, there is no justification for taking a plane.”

Austria introduced the same clause in the bailout of its own national carrier, Austrian Airlines, as well as adding  €30 ($44) for each flight booked under 350 km, according to Forbes.

Image: iStock/Enzojz

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