Short-haul flights are banned in France if trains are available

shadow image of a plane flying during sunset

In France, short-haul domestic flights are now banned for trips that can be completed in two and a half hours by rail.

The directive was announced by France’s minister of transportation, Clement Beaune.

“This is an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As we fight relentlessly 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.”

Clement Beaune, France’s transport minister

Only three routes—those connecting Paris-Orly Airport with Bordeaux, Nantes, and Lyon—have been eliminated. No changes will be made to subsequent flights.

The EU required that the affected air route must have a high-speed train option that allows passengers to reach both cities in less than 2.5 hours in order for the ban to be effective. Additionally, there must be enough early and late trains to allow passengers to arrive at their destination for at least eight hours.

speed train on rail
Photo by Donald Tong on

A ban on flights when a rail trip would take less than four hours had been advocated by his own environmental group, and some have criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for softening those recommendations.

High-speed train lines were already driving people away from airlines, according to critics, and the restriction just mentions climate change issues without actually doing anything to address them.

“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

Jo Dardenne, aviation director for the organization Transport & Environment, which advocates for cleaner transportation, said that while the French flight restriction is symbolic, it won’t significantly cut emissions.

According to T&E, the three routes that are subject to the restriction account for only 0.3% of domestic flights in France that originate on the mainland and 3% of all domestic flights in the nation.

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