MIAMI – The French National Assembly, the lower chamber of the Parliament, voted yesterday law number 2005 that forbids domestic flights to destinations that can be reached by train in two and half hours or less against a previously proposed time limit of four hours.

The ban also includes Paris (CDG) to Brussels (BRU) international flights. Flights ensuring onward connections are excluded from the new measures.

“We have chosen (the train threshold of) 2H30 because 4H would dry up territories that are often landlocked, such as the greater Massif Central… It would be iniquitous in terms of the equity of the territories”, declared Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, French Transport Minister.

French National Assembly in session – Photo : Official from Assemblée Nationale

Climate Law

The reasons behind this law, also known as Climate law, is to reduce CO2 emissions and takes as an example a flight from Marseilles (MRS) to Paris (CDG or ORY) and return entailing emissions of 195kg of CO2 per passengers compared to 4.14kg for the same return stretch by high-speed train (TGV).

The text of law also points out that 20% of the French air traffic is exclusively domestic, between cities that have an excellent train coverage, and most of french airports are in reach of high-speed trains. The gain in time is evaluated in two hours at most but with an high cost in emissions.

French National Assembly Palais Bourbon – Photo : Official photo Assemblée Nationale

EU regulation 1008/2008

The law also argues that even using the lowest possible estimates, it takes an average of one hour to travel from the airport to the city center, both on departure and arrival. This is in addition to a boarding time of at least 30 minutes. So the potential time loss is actually one hour.

It concludes by stating that whenever a direct train service exists the authorities shall not deliver authorizations to exploit air services citing the comma 20 of EU regulation 1008/2008 which recites “Where there are serious environmental problems, the Member State responsible may limit or refuse the exercise of traffic rights, particularly where other modes of transport provide a satisfactory service. “

The ban concerns air links between CDG/ORY and main domestic destinations, the list is not exhaustive, such as MRS, Bordeaux (BOD), Nantes (NTE), Montpellier (MPL), Lyon (LYS) along with LYS to MRS.

Featured image: Air France F-HEPI Airbus A320-214. Photo: tony Bordelais/Airways