DALLAS – The formal ban on short-haul flights where a train alternative journey under two-and-a-half hours exists has come into force in France.
The law, under France’s Citizens’ Convention, was first announced two years ago in a bid to cut carbon emissions. Initially, the law sought the scrapping of flights where a train journey under four hours was available.
But some airlines chose to fight the decision, asking the European Commission to investigate whether it was legal. This led to the current two-and-a-half-hour law being introduced after objections from the Air France-KLM Group and some regions. Rail alternatives must also offer travelers at least eight hours at their destination between journeys, and train companies must be able to absorb the additional passenger numbers.
Initially, eight routes were earmarked for the ban. So far, only three services have been discontinued from Paris Orly (ORY) to Bordeaux (BOD), Nantes (NTW) and Lyon (LYS). Passengers on connecting flights will not be affected. However, if rail services improve, then other routes may be banned.
The French flag carrier Air France (AF) was required to agree to the law as part of the conditions attached to their 2020 €7bn (US$7.3BN) coronavirus financial support package.
However, critics have said that the ban will have a limited impact on reducing emissions. There are also fears that the French national railway SNCF could attempt to increase fares or reduce the quality of its services. Safeguards to prevent this from happening are being called for.
Featured Image: Air France Airbus A320 (F-HBNB). Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways.