France bans short domestic flights where passengers can take the train

The measure is part of broader plans to lower carbon emissions

Helen Coffey
Monday 12 April 2021 11:46 BST
Air France plane
Air France plane

France has banned short domestic flights where passengers can take the train instead.

French lawmakers passed the measure to scrap routes where the same journey can be completed by rail in under two and a half hours on 10 April.

The aviation industry has criticised the move after one of the toughest ever years for the aviation industry, while some climate campaigners say it doesn’t go far enough – a citizens’ climate forum set up to advise the government originally proposed to abolish flights where the equivalent train journey took under four hours.

Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Europe 1 radio: “We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions.

“Equally, we must support our companies and not let them fall by the wayside.”

The vote follows the government’s announcement that it would double its stake in French flag carrier Air France, financing a €4bn (£3.5bn) recapitalisation to help the airline stay afloat after the pandemic resulted in most flights staying grounded.

The domestic flight ban is part of a wider climate bill aimed at tackling France’s emissions, cutting them by 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030.

Having passed in the National Assembly, the bill now passes to the Senate, followed by a final vote in the lower house.

It follows a stunt by environmental activists last month that saw nine people arrested for vandalising an Air France jet with green paint.

With an extendable paint roller, the Greenpeace activists painted on one side of an Air France Boeing 777 at Charles de Gaulle airport, which was parked without passengers, before climbing on the jet. Several of the activists refused to climb down off the plane despite orders from security personnel.

Greenpeace said that the stunt was carried out to raise awareness on “greenwashing” of climate change and environmental regulation.

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