France prohibits short flights with alternative by train since last Wednesday


France is banning regional flights from Wednesday when there is an alternative train service of less than two and a half hours, following the publication of the decree in the French daily newspaper on Tuesday, with immediate effect on air links between Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon and Paris-Orly.

This measure, included in the Climate Law passed in August 2021, aims to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions from this type of regular air transport service.

The decree, which applies for a period of three years, states that train journeys must have "sufficient frequencies and adequate timetables", while the connection must allow the passenger to spend more than eight hours at the destination during the day.

In addition, the train service must be operated between stations serving the same cities as the respective airports concerned.

"However, when the more important of these two airports, taking into account the average traffic recorded over the last seven years, is directly served by a high-speed rail service, the station to be taken into account for the application of the provisions of this paragraph shall be the one serving this airport', explains the decree.

In this regard, the French Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, welcomed this measure as an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"It is a world first and is fully in line with the government's policy of encouraging the use of modes of transport that emit less greenhouse gases," he said in a statement.

However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), through its director general, Willie Walsh, described the measure as "completely absurd" and that it "serves no purpose".

In this sense, Walsh explained that if all routes of less than 500 kilometres in Europe were eliminated, 24% of flights would be eliminated, but, on the other hand, CO2 emissions would fall by only 3.84%, citing a Eurocontrol report.

In addition, one of the airlines' employers, A4E, lamented that "banning these journeys will have only minimal effects" on CO2 emissions. It also said governments should support "real and meaningful solutions" to the problem.

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