A ban on short-haul domestic flights in France has been signed into law, aimed at boosting carbon emissions.
It’s a decision that has drawn criticism: climate campaigners say it hasn’t gone far enough, while aviation figures complain that officials must support “real solutions.” important and important” instead of “symbolic prohibitions”.
Clement Beaune, France’s transport minister, described the move as an “essential step” as well as a “strong symbol of policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.
“As we struggle relentlessly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify air travel between major cities that benefit from frequent, fast and reliable connections? efficient by train?” he added.
How has this rule changed and what does it mean for tourists to (or in) France? Here’s what you need to know.
Why did France ban short-haul flights?
France’s ban on short domestic flights is their way of reducing carbon emissions. Airplanes are very polluting, and these steps have been taken to encourage passengers to use trains, which have significantly lower carbon emissions.
The plans were first announced by the French government in 2021, at which point it was injecting billions of euros into keeping Air France alive during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials asked to reduce domestic flights when it was feasible to replace them by rail – and this is today.
However, an October 2022 study reported that banning ultra-short-haul flights may have “very little” impact on reducing aviation emissions, claiming that “there is a great need for policy initiatives aimed at longer flights”.
What does the ban mean for French tourism?
Very few, really. The rules were targeting only a few routes. If you look online today, you will see that the law does not affect routes from France’s largest airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle. Air France has 7 flights to Bordeaux, just over 2 hours from Paris, open for sale today; six were sold between Paris and Lyon.
In fact, only three routes have been shut down due to the new regulations, and all of them link between the capital’s second smaller airport, Paris-Orly, and Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon.
Connecting flights will not be affected, meaning – for example – an Air France flight from Los Angeles to Lyon can still fly from LAX to Paris Charles de Gaulle before connecting domestically to Lyon.
Even without the law, certain routes may have disappeared; Air France has dropped shorter flights in places with good train connections, such as Brussels–Paris, with the journey between the two cities by high-speed rail taking just an hour and 20 minutes.
The list of restricted routes could be expanded if the country’s rail connections are improved, such as between Rennes and Marseille.
Simon Calder, travel reporter for independencegave its verdict on the changes — or lack thereof — since the law went into effect on May 23.
“It is clear that on the core routes from Lyon, Bordeaux and Nantes to Paris CDG has not changed – with an average of six daily flights each way. Even between Lyon and Marseille, linked by TGV trains in less than two hours, you can choose from three daily flights,” he said.
Could a similar ban happen in the UK?
That is hard to do. In fact, Simon Calder status on his podcast today that “the government can’t wait for you to fly more”, refers to the cut of air passenger tax on domestic routes in April from £13 per passenger to £6.50.
Overall, passengers will jointly benefit from the £58m-a-year levy that the government is waiving. Transport and environmental campaigners were outraged, saying it would encourage a move from rail to air – just when travel should be going in the opposite direction.
The only way you will convince people to stop the routes? According to Simon Calder, what is needed are “reasonable alternatives on the ground” and “the willingness of governments to do something about it”. See this space…