Following previously stated intentions, France has now put into action the promised ban on some domestic flights. Flights receiving the ban were selected as short-haul flights that can be replaced by sufficient, existing rail alternatives.
This plan has been in the works for the French government over the past couple of years. It was originally conceived as a way to reduce the unnecessary carbon emissions created by air travel. Finding the balance between reducing emissions without risking jobs has come at the centre of many sustainability proposals surrounding the aviation sector.
The new ban states that where a trip is possible by an accessible, high-speed train under 2.5 hours, domestic flights covering that journey will no longer be available. This was confirmed by the Paris government on Tuesday the 23rd of May.
This change essentially means that all air travel in France between Paris and other major cities like Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux will be banned. Connecting flights, however, will remain unchanged following the implementation of this ban.
Some delays were experienced in the formation of this decision due to the criteria for rail replacements. In order to ensure that all travellers will have sufficient access to a means of making their journey, the French government laid out the following requirements:
- The rail journey must be under 2.5 hours
- The rail service must be frequent and timely
- The service must be well-connected enough to meet the needs of travellers who would have otherwise taken a flight
- The service must be in a position to take on the increase in passenger numbers
- Passengers must be able to make outbound and return trips by rail within the same day, having spent 8 hours at their destination
These requirements were determined after the ban was originally intended for 2021. Though the 2021 climate law had already begun to be applied, several airlines requested that the European Commission investigate if this ban was a legal move by France.
Following this request, Brussels gave the go-ahead to the operation in December 2022 under the above rail requirements. These were to ensure that the ban would not have a significant effect on travellers’ journeys or the rail service.
Though French MPs originally intended to ban 8 different routes, and this has not been achieved, it has been stated that these other routes could still receive the ban if the rail services can be improved to accommodate. Following this, politicians in France are now beginning to debate how to reduce emissions caused by private jets.
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