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A first in Climate Change: France moves closer to banning short-haul flights

France is now one step closer to banning short-haul flights.

According to Reuters, on the last Saturday (10th April), French lawmakers in the National Assembly voted to prohibit all domestic flight services that could be covered by a train in less than two-and-a-half hours.

The bill passed despite criticism from both sides, with the aviation industry saying that during the pandemic is the wrong time to limit the hard-hit airlines, and environmental campaigners arguing that the ban is inadequate.

According to Rueters. French Industry Minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, dismissed the airline criticism.

The French government more than doubled its stake in Air France last week, announcing it would contribute to a 4 billion euro ($4.76 billion) recapitalisation of the airline to help it through the rest of the pandemic. The French government has imposed conditions on financial aid to the major carrier, with the abolition of shorter domestic flights one of the key points.

Demands for a more longer threshold

Groups like UFC-Que Choisir and the Citizen’s Climate Convention argue that the two-and-a-half-hour limit doesn’t go far enough. They are calling for an abolition of flights with an alternative train journey of fewer than four hours. Activists say that the bill up for vote with its current threshold does little in the way of real change.

Translated from French, Consumer Group UFC-Que Choisir states the following:

Only five lines remain affected by the measure, representing 12% of passengers who took an internal metropolitan flight, against 18 lines at the four-hour threshold (30% of passengers).

Which routes will be affected by this ban?

If this ban goes into place, that will mean that flights between

  • Paris Orly-Rennes
  • Paris Orly-Nantes
  • Paris Orly-Bordeaux
  • Paris Orly-Lyon
  • Lyon-Marseille

would come to an end as these connections can be made by train in less than 2.5 years.

However, there is one striking exception: Connecting flights for onward travel. This is particularly the case when it comes to transiting through Paris Charles de Gaulle for onward journeys further abroad.

The law is not yet finalized — it next goes to the French Senate before a third, final vote in the National Assembly. So it remains to be seen whether it passes in its current form.

Featured image by BBC

What do you think of this policy? Do you think this should be implemented across the world? Let me know in the comments section below.

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