France bans short domestic flights in favour of the train

Intercity train near Schiphol Airport and KLM plane above it, source: ProRail

The French parliament has passed a bill banning domestic flights to destinations that can be reached by train within 2.5 hours. The ban should benefit the climate, but in practice the plan appears to affect only five of more than a hundred flights. According to environmental organisations, the most polluting flight routes remain out of harm’s way.

The original proposal would prohibit flights to destinations that can be reached by train in a maximum of four hours. But this threatened to isolate certain regions, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri defended the adjustment. The proposal is part of the climate law that the French House of Representatives is currently debating. The aim of the law is to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent in 2030 compared to 1990.

Corona support

The shelving of domestic flights was also one of the conditions set by the French government for Air France corona support. The bill that has now been approved prevents other airlines from jumping into that gap. The proposal still has to be approved by the senate before the parliament votes on it in a third and final round.

Due to the new law, flying from Paris to Nantes, Lyon or Bordeaux will soon no longer be possible. Busy flight routes with high emissions such as from Paris to Nice, Toulouse or Marseille are not included in the proposal, because of the distance. According to Greenpeace, this has diluted the proposal to such an extent that the impact on CO2 emissions is very limited.

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Author: Paul van den Bogaard

Paul van den Bogaard is editor of SpoorPro, a sister title of RailTech

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