Planning to fly around France? If there’s a train or bus alternative, you may have to use that instead.
After almost a year of deliberation, France has moved to ban short-range domestic flights.
Fights under 2.5 hours in length will no longer exist in France – the ban currently applies to flights from Paris Orly to Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon (connecting flights will not be affected).
The new law, which has now been confirmed, comes as part of the French government’s €4 billion bailout for Air France following the national carrier’s major losses during the pandemic.
The controversial concept initially involved plans to ban four-hour plane trips, but was scaled back to those lasting up to 2.5 hours after backlash.
The future of domestic air travel in France
If received well in action, France’s ban on short-range domestic flights is expected to extend to other routes in the coming years.
For the ban to apply to other cities, the route must have a high-speed rail alternative that allows passengers to travel between destinations in less than 2.5 hours, as well as sufficient early and late services allowing passengers to spend at least eight hours at the destination.
Eventually, up to 12% of France’s domestic routes are expected to disappear.
Greenpeace has praised the move but thinks the ban should extend to six-hour flights where there is a suitable train alternative.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised for ‘watering down’ the initial proposal, critics labelling the ban as a ‘symbolic move’ that will have little impact on reducing emissions seeing as trends have already seen passengers opt for the train on these specific routes anyway.
The campaign group Transport & Environment estimates that the three routes affected by the ban represent a mere 3 per cent of France’s mainland domestic flight emissions.
France’s ban went ahead after receiving the green light from the European Commission recently, so it is entirely possible that other European airlines may follow suit.
While the proposed positive environmental impacts are questionable, if nothing else, the ban will act as a trial that may affect the future of air travel in Europe.
Do you think France’s ban on short-range domestic flights is reasonable?
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