A climate change first: French lawmakers vote on bill to ban ultra-short-haul flights

Apr 11, 2021

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France is one step closer to banning its shortest flights.

French lawmakers in the National Assembly voted on Saturday to prohibit domestic flights on all routes that could be covered by a train in less than two-and-a-half hours, Reuters reported.

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The ban on ultra-short-haul air travel is part of a broader climate bill meant to help the nation cut its carbon emissions by 40% in 2030 from 1990 levels.

The bill passed despite criticism from both sides, with the aviation industry saying that during the pandemic is the wrong time to limit the hard-hit airlines, and environmental campaigners arguing that the ban is inadequate.

Agnes Pannier-Runacher, the French Industry Minister, dismissed the airline criticism, according to Reuters. The French government more than doubled its stake in Air France last week, announcing it would contribute to a 4 billion euro ($4.76 billion) recapitalisation of the airline to help it through the rest of the pandemic.

On the other side, a climate forum established by French President Emmanuel Macron had pushed for more extensive bans, with flights prohibited on routes that would be under four hours by train.

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Those campaigners may have a point. The bill would exclude connections and hubs — such as Paris Charles de Gaulle — and would effectively prohibit just five out of 108 domestic routes that airlines flew before the pandemic. Those routes are:

  • Paris Orly-Rennes
  • Paris Orly-Nantes
  • Paris Orly-Bordeaux
  • Paris Orly-Lyon
  • Lyon-Marseille

The law is not yet finalized — it next goes to the French Senate before a third, final vote in the National Assembly. So it remains to be seen whether it passes in its current form.

Featured photo by hanohiki/Shutterstock

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