Who benefits from the ban on short-haul flights in France?

Who benefits from the ban on short-haul flights in France?

The ban was formally signed on Tuesday and went into effect virtually two years after lawmakers voted to end domestic flights if the train journey on that route takes less than two and a half hours.

According to French ecologists, when traveling by air, 77 times more carbon dioxide is emitted per passenger than by train. And on railway routes lasting less than two and a half hours, the aircraft’s gain in time is on average only 40 minutes. 

Currently, the ban applies only to commercial flights, that is, private jets both flew and fly .

For an air route to be subject to the EU ban, there must be a high-speed rail connection between points A and B.

Another condition: trains must also run from early morning until late evening so that travelers can spend at the destination for at least eight hours and return back.

So far, trains with aircraft run only on three routes: between Paris-Orly and Bordeaux-Merignac airports, as well as Lyon Saint-Exupery and Nantes Atlantique airports. Connecting flights are not affected by the changes.

Experts note. That it was originally proposed to replace planes with trains on routes up to four hours long. After the negative reaction of the French Airports Union and the European branch of the Airport Council International ACI Europe, the European Commission intervened in December 2022 and cut the distance to the current two and a half hours.

Other “suitable” routes, but as a result they were removed. This is Paris Charles de Gaulle – Bordeaux, Lyon and Rennes, as well as Lyon – Marseille. It turned out that the trains here do not meet the parameters required by the EU. They may be added to the ban at a later date when rail connectivity improves.

Interestingly, the country's flag carrier Air France agreed to cut short distance domestic routes after receiving €7 billion in post-COVID support from the French government -19. But other airlines have questioned the legitimacy of the European Commission's proposals.

Critics of the new regulation say the two-and-a-half hour time limit and the meager number of routes affected make the ban largely symbolic. These three routes are estimated to account for just 3 percent of domestic air travel emissions.

Criticizing the ban, experts say governments should instead focus on “real and meaningful solutions.” problems, as “the ban on these trips will only have a minimal impact” for CO2 emissions.

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