France bans all short domestic flights in a world first, but critics call it tokenistic

DailyBiteMay 24, 2023 | 16:45

France bans all short domestic flights in a world first, but critics call it tokenistic

France bans short haul domestic flights in the country. Photo: DailyO

France has banned all short-haul domestic flights in the country effective May 24. The French government has taken the step to reduce carbon emissions. The flights have been banned on routes with train lines. However, critics call the ban 'symbolic'.  

Domestic flights in France have been banned on routes where the same journey can be completed by train in under 2.5 hours.  


Which routes are affected?

  • Three routes have been affected by the ban. These are the ones that link the Paris-Orly airport to Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon.
  • Bordeaux is 590 km from Paris, Nantes is 390 km from the French capital, and Lyon is 465 km away. 
  • Connecting flights remain unaffected. 
  • All the three above routes have high-speed train lines and the journey between the destinations can be covered within almost the same time as the flights. 

Why are critics calling it 'symbolic'?

No one will be fooled by this measure: passengers are naturally turning away from taking flights on these routes.
- Guillaume Schmid, former vice-president of Air France's pilots' union, tweeted
  • Critics say that people have already switched from flights to trains on these routes; hence the ban is unlikely to have any impact on passenger travel or carbon emissions. 
  • Cleaner transport campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E) told AFP that the ban represents only 0.3% of emissions by flights taking off from mainland France and 3% of domestic flight emissions. 
  • Earlier, the domestic flight ban was supposed to be on rail routes under 4 hours, but protests by airlines reduced this to routes that can be covered by train in under 2.5 hours. 
  • The routes with the ban also need to have frequent train services in a timely manner. And the French national railway (SNCF) cannot use this opportunity to raise prices or degrade the quality of rail travel. 

More short-haul domestic flight routes can be banned in France if rail connectivity improves, such as between the cities of Marseille and Rennes. 

France is also evaluating ways to reduce carbon emissions coming from private jets.

On the other hand, Greenpeace, an NGO campaigning for environmental causes, argues that all flights within the EU with rail journeys that can be covered within 6 hours should be banned.

Last updated: May 24, 2023 | 16:45
    Please log in
    I agree with DailyO's privacy policy