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What does France’s short-haul flight ban mean for travellers?

What does France’s short-haul flight ban mean for travellers?

A ban on short-haul domestic flights in France has been signed into law, in a push to bring down carbon emissions.

It’s a decision that has its critics: climate campaigners have said it doesn’t go far enough, while figures from the aviation industry have complained that officials must support “real and significant solutions” instead of “symbolic bans”.

Clement Beaune, the French transport minister, described the move as “an essential step” as well as a “strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

“As we fight relentlessly to decarbonise our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train?” he added.

How did this rule change come to be, and what does it mean for travellers going to (or in) France? Here’s what you need to know.

Why has France introduced a law to ban short-haul flights?

France’s ban on short domestic flights is their way of reducing carbon emissions. Aircraft are enormous polluters, and these steps have been taken to encouraging passengers to use trains, which have a dramatically lower carbon footprint.

The plans were first announced by the French government in 2021, at which point it was pumping billions of euros into keeping Air France afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials demanded a reduction in domestic flights where substitution by rail was feasible – and here are today.

However, a study in October 2022 reported that the banning of super-short haul flights could have “very little” impact on reducing aviation emissions, claiming that “policy initiatives that target longer flights are urgently needed.”

What does the ban mean for France travel?

Very little, really. The rules have targeted only a few routes. If you look online today, you’ll see that the legislation doesn’t affect routes from France’s biggest airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle. Air France had seven flights to Bordeaux, which is only just over two hours from Paris, on sale today; six were on sale between Paris and Lyon.

In fact, only three routes have been discontinued due to the new rules, and they’re all links between the capital’s smaller second airport, Paris-Orly, and Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon.

Connecting flights will be unaffected, meaning – for example – an Air France flight from…

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