France bans short-haul domestic flights to cut emissions

The plans, approved on Friday by the European Commission, will at first affect three major flight paths across the country, with the potential for more routes to be banned should rail services improve

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Thomas Brooke

The European Commission has approved plans of the French government to ban short-haul domestic flights in a bid to cut down on carbon emissions.

Plans put forward by Macron’s administration were given the green light in Brussels, subject to some amendments. Short-haul domestic flights will be prohibited in the country where an alternative rail route is available that takes less than two and a half hours.

The proposal, which has been hailed by the French Greens and environmental lobbyists in Brussels alike, will directly affect three major air routes between Paris-Orly and Lyon, Nantes, and Bordeaux.

An intention to improve rail services and decrease the journey duration could see routes from Paris and Rennes to Lyon and Marseille also axed.

The measure is expected to take several months to enter into force and should last initially for three years, with a review of its effectiveness undertaken after two.

In its decision, published on Dec. 2, the European Commission dismissed the protestations of French airports and airline lobbyists, who claimed that the ban would fall foul of competition laws.

It claimed, however, that “the negative impacts on European citizens and connectivity of any restriction of traffic rights must be offset by the availability of affordable, convenient and more sustainable alternative transport modes.”

France’s Transport Minister Clément Beaune called the move a “major step forward,” adding: “I am proud that France is a pioneer in this area.”

Karima Delli, a French Green MEP, hailed the European Commission’s approval of the ban, calling it a “victory” for environmental campaigners, but insisted that “the threshold must be raised to four hours, and above all, include private jets in the ban.”

A four-hour threshold would effectively see the abolition of all internal flights across France.

“The French ban on short-haul flights where quick train connections exist is a baby step, but it’s one in the right direction,” said Thomas Gelin, Greenpeace’s EU climate campaigner. 

“Expect much more of this,” tweeted Canadian conservative scholar Jordan Peterson in response to the news.

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