The French parliament on April 10 voted to ban scheduled domestic flights on routes where a train service taking less than two and a half hours is available. However, the move, which is intended to reduce carbon emissions from aviation, will not apply to connecting flights in and out of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. In fact, according to French environment group Reseau Action Climat, it will apply to just five routes connecting Paris Orly Airport with the cities of Nantes, Rennes, Bordeaux and Lyon, and Marseille to Lyon.
Saturday’s vote was taken in the Assemblee Nationale house of the French parliament, and the new law still has to be voted on by the Senate before going back to the other chamber for a third and final vote. The legislation could be amended by the Senate and no date has yet been published for that vote.
The vote prompted some criticism from the air transport sector, which argues that it will undermine efforts for the industry to recover from the Covid pandemic. However, the French government seems determined to advance measures to lower the country’s carbon emissions by 40 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2030. Despite its somewhat symbolic impact, the move may be viewed as a precursor to further restrictions as France scrambles to meet its commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which sets specific targets for reducing carbon emissions.
Last week, the French government agreed to recapitalize flag carrier Air France with up to around $4.7 billion in new funding. It has tied earlier state aid for air transport to requirements to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint, and in this case, required Air France to relinquish 18 daily slots at Paris Orly Airport.