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France officially bans short-haul domestic flights

In a promising turn of events, the European Commission has approved a bill abolishing flights between cities in France. Any journey under 2.5 hours will be scrapped for the next three years, and train travel is being incentivised.

It’s taken ages to get here, but finally ink is dry on the paper.

Ending close to a two-year stalemate, the European Commission has approved bans to short-haul flights between cities in France. The legislation states that any domestic journey which can be completed in under 2.5 hours by train is immediately abolished.

The decision, which came on Friday (December 2nd), ended a lengthy period of silence in which the European Commission was said to be investigating whether such a move was logistically possible. We first covered the story way back in April of 2021.

The demand for cutbacks were originally posed by France’s Citizens’ Convection on Climate, an assembly of ecologically minded volunteers tasked with finding ways to lower national emissions.

They were, however, met with staunch opposition from the Union of French Airports and the Airports Council International, with both bodies citing the industry’s economic downturn spurred by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Fast forward 20 months, and the ban has been green lit – though it fails to cut out all nationwide flights, as many had hoped. Initially, the ban only affects three routes; between Paris Orly and Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux where rail alternatives are available.

This means that popular flight routes, like Paris Charles de Gaulle to Lyon and Rennes, will remain unaffected as rail services either don’t yet exist or exceed the 2.5 hour criteria.

All measures are to be reviewed in three years’ time, to see how effective the embargo is at bringing CO2 levels down. The European Commission assures that stricter reductions can be introduced if the climate data doesn’t live up to expectations.

It’s not just gas-guzzling commercial fliers that French officials are taking aim at, either. Private jets are up to 14 times more polluting than such flights and 50 times worse than trains, and regulators are reportedly gearing up to introduce heavy taxes and restrictions.

 

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If you’re wondering just how damaging these transport exploits are, we laid bare Kylie Jenner’s wasteful flying habits, as well as other A list celebrities last summer.

On that point, aviation data points to France as having the largest number of private jets in the whole of Europe, and a tenth of all departures in 2019 were attributed to them – 50% travelling less than 300 miles also, it’s worth noting.

‘The French should not have to feel as if it’s always the same people who are being asked to make efforts,’ said government spokesperson Olivier Veran, who went on to describe the disparity between jet and plane as a ‘flea jump’ on French radio this week.

Veran claimed the Minister of Transport is now proposing a consultation on a wider scale to see if the whole of Europe can begin to deal with both types of aviation emissions.

As much as we’d love that to happen in the near future, given the stint we had to endure before this bill came into effect, you’d be wise to take that last point with a pinch of salt.

 

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