France bans domestic flights for trains

France bans domestic flights for trains

A ban on domestic flights for journeys that can be completed in two-and-a-half hours by train has been signed into law in France.

This is an important step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said James Beaune, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As we fight constantly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train, he said.

Only three flights have been discontinued: those linking Paris-Orly airport to the cities of Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon. The EU has argued that the air route must have a high-speed rail alternative that makes it possible to travel between the two cities in less than two-and-a-half hours. There must also be sufficient early-and late-running trains to enable passengers to spend up to eight hours at the destination.

French President Emmanuel Macron has come under fire for reducing his own environmental panel, which recommended a ban on flights if a train journey would take less than four hours.

Critics have criticized high-speed train lines, which were already draining passengers away from airlines and that the ban pays lip service to climate concerns without really doing anything about them.

No one will be fooled by this measure: Passengers are naturally turning away from taking flights on these routes, said Guillaume Schmid, former vice president of Air France's pilots union.

The French flight ban is a symbolic move but will have very little impact on reducing emissions, said Jo Dardenne, a campaign director at the Clean Air campaign group Transport Environment.

T&E calculates that the three routes impacted by the ban represent only 0.3% of the emissions produced by flights taking off from mainland France and 3% of the country's domestic flight emissions count only mainland domestic flights.