France’s Ban on Short Domestic Flights Becomes Effective


As part of efforts to switch to a greener mode of transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, authorities in France have officially banned domestic flights on short routes that can be covered by train in less than two-and-half hours.

The decree was heralded by the Transport Minister, Clement Beaune, reports.

Beaune considered it an important step as well as a strong symbol in the policy of minimising greenhouse gas emissions.

“As we fight relentlessly to decarbonise our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train,” Beaune pointed out in a statement, according to CNN report.

The recent measure was included in a 2021 climate law and was already applied; however, some airlines urged the European Commission to investigate whether it was legal.

According to the local media report, the latest changes will mainly rule out air trips between France’s capital and regional hubs such as Nantes, Bordeaux and Lyon. At the same time, connecting flights will not be affected.

In order for the ban to be applied, the European Union insisted that the air route in question should have a high-speed rail option that enables travel between the two cities in less than two-and-half hours.

French President Emmanuel Macron was criticised for watering down proposals from his own environmental panel, which had introduced a ban on flights where a train trip would take fewer than four hours.

“No one will be fooled by this measure: travellers are naturally turning away from taking flights on these routes,” former vice president of Air France’s pilots’ union, Guillaume Schmid, pointed out in this regard.

Authorities in France have increased efforts to make train travel as the leading travel choice.

However, the rail industry is subject to some difficulties. Recently, it was reported that France seeks a deal with European Union in order to avoid repaying rail freight aid.

The Transport Minister of France, Clement Beaune, stressed that the government is in talks with the European Commission in order to avoid reimbursing about €5.3 billion of state aid received by the country’s rail freight operator.

The Minister considered that paying back this aid would kill Fret SNCF, stressing that he believes that an agreement with the EU in this regard would be reached.

In December last year, the government of France announced that it would abolish flights between cities that can be reached for a period of less than 2.5 hours by train in an effort to decline the carbon emission in the country.

Whereas previously, on April 2021, the Members of the French Parliament had voted to suspend short domestic flights if the trip could be covered by train within a two-and-half hours period in order to reduce carbon emissions.

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