France Implements Ban on Short Domestic Flights

France has officially implemented a ban on short domestic flights that can be completed by train within two-and-a-half hours. The decree, signed into law on Tuesday, was announced by Transport Minister Clement Beaune, who hailed it as a crucial step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a significant symbol in their environmental policies.

Critics argue that the move is just that — a symbol — and not much else, as it won’t really have much of an impact on the country’s carbon emissions. The ban will affect only three routes, those from Paris-Orly airport to the cities of Bordeaux, Nantes, and Lyon, while connecting flights will remain unaffected. 

To justify the ban, the European Union insisted that there must be a high-speed rail alternative enabling travelers to reach their destination in less than two-and-a-half hours, with sufficient early and late-running train services to ensure a minimum of eight hours at the destination.

The original recommendation from the country’s environmental panel, which critics accuse President Emmanuel Macron of watering down, was to ban flights where a train journey would take less than four hours. These critics contend that high-speed train lines were already attracting passengers away from airlines and that the ban merely pays lip service to climate concerns without effectively addressing them.

Guillaume Schmid, former vice president of Air France’s pilots’ union, expressed skepticism regarding the ban’s impact, stating that passengers were already naturally gravitating towards alternative modes of transportation on these routes.

According to estimates from Transport & Environment, the three routes affected by the ban account for just 0.3% of emissions produced by flights departing from mainland France and 3% of the country’s domestic flight emissions, considering only mainland domestic flights.

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