France has started to ban short-haul domestic flights on routes where there are train travel alternatives that can be completed in less than two and a half hours. The aim of the new rule is to reduce carbon emissions on French territory.
The rule was debated by French legislators two years ago, but it was only this week that a vote was taken to implement the new law. With the ban in effect, direct flights from Paris to major cities in France such as Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux will be excluded.
Controversial, the measure is already causing controversy. Laurent Donceel, acting head of the Airlines for Europe (A4E) industrial group, was one of the first to voice his displeasure. To the AFP agency, the director of the association that brings together airlines in Europe said that “banning these trips will only have minimal effects” on CO2 emissions, adding that governments should discuss “real and meaningful solutions” to the problem of pollution in aviation .
Legislation prohibiting short-haul flights in France was drafted by the Citizens’ Convention on the Climate of France, created on the initiative of President Emmanuel Macron in 2019.
The group’s initial plan was even more restrictive and proposed disabling flights where there were train alternatives on trips lasting less than four hours.
The four-hour ban on domestic air travel, during which it is possible to fly across virtually all of mainland France from north to south and east to west, was advocated by the French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir to reduce polluting emissions in the country. .
“On average, the plane emits 77 times more CO2 per passenger than the train on these routes, even though the train is cheaper and the time lost is limited to 40 minutes”, said the organization.
The group also asked the French government for “safeguards so that the SNCF (French national railway) does not take the opportunity to artificially inflate its prices or degrade the quality of the rail service” due to the ban on short-haul flights.
French airlines, including the traditional Air France, had not yet commented on the new rule.