French lawmakers have approved a bill that will ban short domestic flights in an effort to lower the country’s carbon emissions. Under the proposals, air routes will be abolished where the same journey could be made by train in under two-and-a-half hours.
The climate bill is aimed to remove domestic flights between the capital, Paris, and other cities, such as Nantes, Lyon, or Bordeaux. However, the law does provide exceptions for connecting flights. The planned measures will face a further vote in the Senate before becoming law.
Airlines around the world have been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with the website Flightradar24 reporting that the number of flights last year was down almost 42% from 2019.
In May 2020, the French government forced Air France to give up domestic routes affected by the bill in return for financial support.
Some lawmakers have criticised the bill for its likely impact on the air travel industry, already under intense strain during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Charlton, managing director of Aviation Advocacy Geneva, said that the law had been poorly explained to the industry. “There’s an enormous balance [between environmental concerns and business concerns] that has to be struck … it’s an extremely complicated matter,” Charlton said.
.But French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir called on lawmakers to retain the four-hour limit. “On average, the plane emits 77 times more CO2 per passenger than the train on these routes, even though the train is cheaper and the time lost is limited to 40 minutes,” it said. It also called for “safeguards that [French national railway] SNCF will not seize the opportunity to artificially inflate its prices or degrade the quality of rail service”.
This is not the first time similar measures have been introduced. Last year, Austrian Airlines replaced a flight route between the capital Vienna and the city of Salzburg with an increased train service, after receiving a government bailout with provisions to cut its carbon footprint.
Source: BBC News
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