EU Approves French Short-Haul Flight Ban

EU Approves French Short-Haul Flight Ban

DALLAS – The European Commission has given the green light to the French government’s plans to ban short-haul domestic flights where a viable alternative by train is available.

According to the Commission, only three routes meet the criteria despite initial talk of eight routes being affected. These are Paris (ORY) to Bordeaux (BOD), Nantes (NTE) and Lyon (LYS).

The plan, first announced by French lawmakers in 2021, would see domestic flights banned if there was an alternative and regular train journey of two and a half hours or less. This was part of the conditions given to the €7bn (US$7.3bn) in state aid granted to Air France (AF) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initial ban will affect three routes from Paris Orly Airport (ORY). Photo: Paris Aéroport.

A Pioneering Move

“I welcome the Commission’s decision which will make it possible to launch new steps in the effective banning of airlines when there is an alternative of less than 2h30 by train,” the French Minister Delegate for Transport, Clément Beaune said. “This is a major effort, and I am proud that France is a pioneer in this area.”

The French Government had also proposed an exemption to the rule for domestic flights that are part of a multi-stop international journey. The Commission subsequently refused this.

AF retired its regional subsidiary ‘HOP!’ branding in December 2020. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.

Excluded Routes

Two routes from Paris (CDG) to BOD and NTE have avoided the ban, as the rail times are currently above the threshold. Three other services have also been excluded from CDG to LYS and Rennes (RNS), plus LYS to Marseille (MRS). However, these services could all be added to the ban if rail services improve.

The Commission said in an official statement that, “Future improvements in the rail services, with services operating at sufficient frequencies and suitable timings – in particular for the purposes of connecting flights – will enable these air routes to be banned.”

Featured Image: The domestic flight ban was originally conceived in 2021. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways.

European Deputy Editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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