Sunday, September 26, 2021

France moves to ban short-haul domestic flights in favour of fast trains

The ban is part of a broader climate bill meant to help the nation cut its carbon emissions.

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France is one step closer to banning its shortest domestic intercity flights.

French lawmakers in the National Assembly voted on Saturday to prohibit domestic flights on all routes that can be covered by a train in less than two-and-a-half hours, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions, Reuters reports.

The ban is part of a broader climate bill meant to help the nation cut its carbon emissions by 40% in 2030 from 1990 levels.

The planned measures will face a further vote in the Senate before becoming law. it remains to be seen whether it will pass in its current form.

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

France’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate, which was created by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 and included 150 members of the public, had proposed scrapping plane journeys where train journeys of under four hours existed.

Saturday’s vote came days after the French government more than doubled its stake in Air France. The government had previously offered over US$8 billion in loans to help the airline weather the pandemic, although France’s economy minister said at the time the funding was dependent on the airline scrapping some of its domestic flights.

This is not the first time similar measures have been introduced.

Last year, Austrian Airlines replaced a flight route between the capital Vienna and the city of Salzburg with an increased train service, after receiving a government bailout with provisions to cut its carbon footprint.

Airlines around the world have been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with website Flightradar24 reporting that the number of flights last year were down almost 42% from 2019.

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