France bans short-haul domestic flights

France is now replacing short air routes with timely train or bus alternatives.

France is making quite a statement about the environmental impact of air travel this week. In an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, France has banned domestic flights of two-and-a-half hours or less, where a frequent and timely alternative – such as a bus or train – is available. The first effects of the flight ban will be most felt on routes departing Paris Orly, bound for Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon, but could expand to include Marseille and Rennes should those particular rail connections improve to meet the requirements set out in the bill. 

Why is France banning domestic flights? 

According to reports published by Agence France-Presse, the new ban is the result of a 2021 climate action law and is part of a plan to reduce France’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. 

An Air France plane flying in the sky
© Unsplash/ Daniel Eledut

The new law came into effect on May 23, 2023, and requires that train schedules set to replace affected air routes be frequent enough and provide similar connections for passengers as the culled flights. It’s also required that passengers have the ability to make their return journey on the same day, with an allowance of eight hours at their destination in between. It’s hypothesised that the travel time might increase by up to 40 minutes on some routes, though boarding trains is usually far quicker and more efficient than the security and check-in process at airports. 

However, there is a little exception to the rule: passengers on connecting flights, such as a traveller flying from another country to somewhere such as Lyon or Bordeaux, with a connection in Paris Charles de Gaulle, will still be able to do so. 

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