France Makes Carbon-Neutral Move, Bans Short Flights

If there's an option to go by rail from Paris to Lyon, travelers will need to use it
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2023 4:22 PM CDT
France Makes Carbon-Neutral Move, Bans Short Flights
An Airbus A320neo takes off for its first test flight at Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France.   (AP Photo/Frederic Lancelot, File)

In a move to cut carbon emissions, France has officially banned domestic short-haul flights when train alternatives are available. The law was published in a formal government decree, ending the airline industry's hopes of soaring above it, the BBC reports. The ban mostly grounds air trips between Paris and cities like Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux, though connecting flights won't be affected. The BBC notes that critics have called this a mere "symbolic ban," even though planes emit 77 times more CO2 per passenger than trains on these routes.

However, this journey to a greener future hasn't been smooth. As the Local reports, originally, the law proposed to ban any flight for journeys that could be done within six hours by rail. After a bit of turbulence in Parliament, this was trimmed down to a two-and-a-half-hour train ride. The law also ensured that train services on the same route must be frequent, timely, and well-connected, so passengers don't miss their air travel too much. Those planning a day trip should be able to make outbound and return train journeys on the same day.

Notably, this law only applies to commercial flights, not private air. Air France is already on board with this plan thanks to a 2020 COVID financial support package. Other airlines won't be able to fill the gap either; competitors are banned from doing so. Travelers trading commercial flight for private will need to keep in mind that French politicians are also trying to reduce emissions from private jets. (More environment stories.)

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