France short-haul flight ban comes into effect: What it means for travellers
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France short-haul flight ban comes into effect: What it means for travellers

France short-haul flight ban comes into effect: What it means for travellers

Domestic flight journeys that can be completed by train in less than two-and-a-half hours banned by French Transport Ministry

Marisha Singh
France implements short-haul flight ban. Image credit: Groupe ADP

Four months after the European Commission approved France’s flight ban on short-haul domestic routes, it has now gone into effect from May 23 as part of the country’s climate law.

The ban cancels flight journeys that can be completed by train in less than two-and-a-half hours. It currently covers three cities and will be in place for three years. However, if the policy is deemed a success, more flight routes will be removed after an assessment.

What does the law say?

As per the R. 330-6 of France’s Civil Aviation Code:

1) The law applies to flights that connect airports located in the same towns or cities. In other words, if there are multiple airports serving the same town or city, the law applies to flights operating between those specific airports. The intention behind this provision is to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation, such as trains, for short-distance travel within the same locality instead of relying on air travel.

2) The train connection between the airports must be direct, without requiring passengers to change trains. The train service should operate multiple times a day and provide satisfactory service, including affordable fares compared to alternative rail transport. The frequency and schedules of the train service should consider passenger transportation needs, connectivity, intermodality, and potential traffic transfers resulting from the flight ban.

3) The train connection should allow passengers to spend more than eight hours at their destination during the day.

Why is the ban being introduced?

Aviation industry’s carbon footprint has long been under the spotlight. European Union’s intense rail network and borderless travel provides a scope for such an experiment, especially as net zero deadlines become a reality for many countries. Clément Beaune, France’s transport minister, described the move as “an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Beaune also said the ban was a “global first that is fully in line with the Government’s policy of encouraging the use of modes of transportation that emit fewer greenhouse gases.”

The ban also tries to more efficiently use France’s high-speed TGV network which has expansive connections across the country. Trains between major cities are frequent, convenient and inexpensive, meaning most intercity passengers are already used to taking the train.

Flight ban impact on travellers

The ban applies to three flight routes. Flights originating from Paris’ Orly airport to Bordeaux, Lyon and Nantes have now been cancelled.

However, passengers can still get air connections to these regional capitals from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. Long-haul flights will also continue with these routes.

Alternatives to flights

  1. Low-cost, high-speed Ouigo trains, start at just Eur10 from Paris to Lyon. These tickets offer the option of paying for larger piece of luggage or an assigned seat.
  2. Standard class on the regular high-speed TGV (inOui) trains, which offer better options for luggage and seating
  3. First class regular TGV offer larger seats with extra legroom and more comfort
  4. Some routes offer the night train – Intercité de Nuit as well as slower trains called Intercités

Is the ban permanent?

The implementation will be under review during the initial phase of implementation. European Commission will receive a report from the French government after 24 months. The EC approved banning flights on three routes, from an original request to ban a total of eight.

As per reports, France had proposed domestic routes between Charles de Gaulle and Lyon, Rennes, Bordeaux and Nantes; and between Marseille and Lyon.

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