France Bans Short Domestic Flights, But…

France Bans Short Domestic Flights, But…

37

In April 2021, French lawmakers voted to ban short domestic flights. This law will finally be going into effect in the coming days, causing airlines to cancel some routes. While this no doubt sounds drastic, the practical implications are fairly limited.

France’s ban on domestic flights

As of April 2022, France will ban domestic flights for routes that could be covered in under 2hr30min by train. This is an effort by the government to lower carbon emissions from air travel. This vote was made by the National Assembly, and then there were two more sets of votes before this was formally approved.

Interestingly this had been voted on shortly after it was announced that the French government would more than double its stake in Air France-KLM, which came with some significant provisions. This new rule is part of an overall effort by France to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, bringing them back down to 1990 levels.

As France’s Industry Minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, described this update at the time:

“We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions. Equally, we must support our companies and not let them fall by the wayside.”

France had been considering all kinds of measures to reduce emissions from aviation. For example, in September 2020 I wrote about how the country was considering adding the world’s highest aviation eco-tax, which could be 400 EUR one-way for long haul business class flights.

Other ideas under consideration included banning flights where there are train connections of less than four hours, and even banning the construction of new airports and expansion of existing airports.

France was considering the world’s highest aviation eco-tax

How many routes are impacted by this?

This new measure of banning short haul domestic flights might sound drastic, but how many flight routes are actually impacted by this new rule? Of the 108 pre-coronavirus domestic routes in France, this impacts… five routes. Yep, just five.

This includes the following (flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle aren’t impacted):

  • Paris Orly to Bordeaux
  • Paris Orly to Lyon
  • Paris Orly to Nantes
  • Paris Orly to Rennes
  • Lyon to Marseille
Only five routes are on the chopping block

So this bans roughly ~4.6% of domestic flight routes. Admittedly these are probably some of the more high frequency routes, so it probably represents more than 4.6% of total domestic capacity, but still. I’d hardly call this revolutionary, and I doubt this will materially impact Air France’s financial performance.

Why are flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle not impacted? It’s because the law is intended to target those flying exclusively within the country, so it doesn’t impact those connecting off long haul flights.

In the case of Paris Charles de Gaulle, these routes can continue to exist, to serve passengers who are connecting from other markets (though local passengers can book them as well). I haven’t been able to compare schedules, but I can’t help but wonder if frequencies were simply increased out of Charles de Gaulle to make up for cuts out of Orly…

It’s primarily routes out of Paris Orly that are impacted

Bottom line

As of April 2022, France is banning domestic flights in markets that could be covered by trains in under 2hr30min. This is part of a larger plan to reduce emissions in the country, and came in conjunction with the government increasing its stake in Air France-KLM last year.

This new law impacts just five of the 100+ domestic routes in France, so the implications aren’t that major. At least it won’t have nearly as bad of an impact on the French aviation industry as the introduction of the world’s highest aviation tax, for example.

What do you make of France banning short haul domestic flights?

Conversations (37)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    With all the talk about what they are doing it seems to result in little.

  2. Mike Guest

    I know I don’t have the full picture but struggling to see why anyone would want to fly these routes. Did paris to Bordeaux just before covid and the trip to Lyon many times. By the time you account for the trip to the airport, the nightmare that Paris airports are (CDG in particular) and the whole dependency on weather conditions, taking the train is a much better idea.
    CDG airport has a good...

    I know I don’t have the full picture but struggling to see why anyone would want to fly these routes. Did paris to Bordeaux just before covid and the trip to Lyon many times. By the time you account for the trip to the airport, the nightmare that Paris airports are (CDG in particular) and the whole dependency on weather conditions, taking the train is a much better idea.
    CDG airport has a good train station that already serves most of these cities (as far as Brussels), so I’d consider train even following a long haul flight

  3. Steven E Guest

    Well there or trains are fantastic and generally a faster option all things considered

  4. hartd8 Member

    and I wonder how many more cars will be on the rode if people choose to drive?? that will help NOT!!crazy socialists

    1. billb303 New Member

      Why would they drive - the French intermodal transportation network is vastly superior to our own. Hopping on a regional train to get to the TGV is really not that big a deal and a lot less expensive than driving a car for a couple of hours in France.

      There's nothing "socialist" about this and while it may not go nearly far enough in terms of reducing emissions, it is something - and better yet,...

      Why would they drive - the French intermodal transportation network is vastly superior to our own. Hopping on a regional train to get to the TGV is really not that big a deal and a lot less expensive than driving a car for a couple of hours in France.

      There's nothing "socialist" about this and while it may not go nearly far enough in terms of reducing emissions, it is something - and better yet, something that makes practical sense for a change.

      You might actually want to try the French trains sometime - being able to go city-center to city-center without all the time-wasting airport crap is really quite nice. I find that most people who have criticized or make disparaging comments about trains really haven't tried using them. As a few others here have posted - why would I ever choose to take one of these short-haul flights given that the trains are cleaner, more efficient, and competitively priced?

  5. TheQuest Guest

    When in France, do as the French do (with your best Monte Python impression) "RUN AWAY...RUN AWAY"

    1. billb303 New Member

      Enough with the French bashing - it gets really old. You can make fun of them for many things, but they do have a vastly superior rail system compared to ours and it simply makes sense to use trains on these routes - regardless of the emissions impact.

      Remember, we'd be British subjects right now if it weren't for our French friends.

  6. Bob Guest

    "Admittedly these are probably some of the more high frequency routes"

    Not at all Ben!

    Except La navette to BOD, which was about 10 flights a day due to the competition of a 2 hours train schedule only (talk about a shuttle service with only 10 flights a working day), all other flights were just about 3 flights a day: morning, lunch time, evening.

  7. Leo Guest

    Such a double standards. They don't fly over Russian airspace and don't care about higher emissions it's causing.

  8. Brian G. Member

    What the French politicians are missing is that if you live in the suburbs of a city like Paris, depending on its location it might be way faster to get to the airport and fly. Of course, they all live in the city center where the train is a shorter long journey time.

    1. billb303 New Member

      That's hard to believe - they have a pretty good RER train system around most of Paris that would connect to a TGV station. Thinking of the time wasted when you have to fly - getting to the airport, checking in, etc. - there are few places, even in the suburbs that aren't as well serviced, that would result in a reduction of the time to get to the destination.

  9. Nun Guest

    Did they ban the even less efficient domestic flights of private jets country wide? I highly doubt it.

    1. Max Guest

      Never gonna happen - especially not if you are considering that France is home of Dassault, next to Bombardier and Gulfstream one of the most important business jet producers. Also the rich&influential people on the Cote d Azur would strictly oppose it.

  10. ChuckMO Guest

    Will the affected slots at ORY be retired or will they simply be reallocated for other services? Kind of a zero sum game if not retired.

    1. Bob Guest

      The slots have already been given to Transavia by Air France in order not to give them to the competition.

      What a farce to say this is to reduce emissions...

  11. David Guest

    This is what we will get if we let if the eco-zealots and the likes of John Kerry have their way here in the US. You laugh. First it was the light bulb, next it's your car, the cost of energy going through the roof due in large part to the effects of this ongoing green crap religion.

    1. Rain Guest

      The cost of energy is increasing because of the reliance on fossil fuels and the role Russia plays in the extraction. The cost of this "green crap" is lower than in most cases than continuing to fuel these power stations. It's only morons like yourself who haven't got the memo yet that force us to continue to look for alternative sources of fossil fuels rather than making the wholesale switch.
      As for this being...

      The cost of energy is increasing because of the reliance on fossil fuels and the role Russia plays in the extraction. The cost of this "green crap" is lower than in most cases than continuing to fuel these power stations. It's only morons like yourself who haven't got the memo yet that force us to continue to look for alternative sources of fossil fuels rather than making the wholesale switch.
      As for this being the choice of eco-zealots I'm not sure you read the article. Or if you have that you're able to understand what it's saying. The whole point of the article is that it does seemingly nothing. Only non-connecting traffic to a small number of locations is covered and nothing from AFs main hub.
      Truthfully a more effective solution to remove flights from the air would've been to ban the connecting flights and made it so that the onward connection is via railway to the next city. So a USA to Lyon flight would have you leaving the airport and taking the TGV from Paris to Lyon. Of course this would've been seen as untenable by AF as Lufthansa, KLM, BA and others would've taken all of the demand instead for connecting flights and so here were are with a solution that does very little.

    2. Bob Guest

      "Only non-connecting traffic to a small number of locations is covered"

      Wrong!

      There is a lot of connecting traffic to the long-haul flights to the overseas départements of France from ORY when the flight is by Air France.

      So now Air France pays you the taxi at Massy-Palaisau train station to get to Orly airport.
      If the taxi is electric, maybe there is some "ecological" gain, if it is a 'oil' powered taxi: where is the gain?

    3. snic Guest

      Yup, I laugh. While drought and wildfires burn up the west, and hurricanes and floods drown the southeast, I cackle with glee.

      Not that this French law is going to have any effect. But at least we should agree that we need to do something about climate change.

    4. platy Guest

      @ David

      Didn't you get the memo....huge corporations who are major players in the fossil fuel industries are already leading change regardless of government. Australian giant mining company BHP has been shifting away from coal (I know this because I have worked for them as a consultant). UK company BP was already retiring its oil / gas exploration before the Russian invasion of Ukraine (I know this because my best friend has worked for them...

      @ David

      Didn't you get the memo....huge corporations who are major players in the fossil fuel industries are already leading change regardless of government. Australian giant mining company BHP has been shifting away from coal (I know this because I have worked for them as a consultant). UK company BP was already retiring its oil / gas exploration before the Russian invasion of Ukraine (I know this because my best friend has worked for them at a very senior level for decades and just had to quit the Moscow / Russian operations).

      I laugh at people who are in denial because they are ignorant, they make stupid remarks without any education or experience in a relevant field.

      I laugh at people who attempt to pass off environmental responsibility as a "green religion" because they are pathetically irresponsible and selfishly clutch at excuses when they can't bothered to change and respect their community and environment.

      I laugh at people who make hysterical accusations about the impacts of change, because they lack the intelligence to mount a reasoned argument.

      No doubt the USA will once again fail to be a world leader in tackling environmental responsibility and climate change, just as it failed to tackle COVID.

      And the reason it will fail will be the dumb folk just like you who refuse to accept reality.

    5. FlyerDon Guest

      Tesla is opening its second assembly line in Austin. Demand is so high you have to wait months to receive your car. Tesla is worth more than GM, Ford and Chrysler combined. Eco-zealots, as you call them, are leading us away from fossil fuels and creating more jobs and more wealth than coal mines and oil wells ever will. Don’t be afraid of change. I promise you clean air and water won’t hurt you.

  12. Icarus Guest

    Makes sense for connections. Many communities in France are however, not that well served

  13. Jeffrey Chang Guest

    IF French rail travel is so superior in terms of comfort, punctuality, and cleanliness then the market should have already rendered such air routes extinct. In my opinion, this is done to put more power in the French rail unions increasing their stranglehold on transit.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Shinkansen is so superior in terms of comfort, punctuality, and cleanliness.
      Air routes are still alive and well.

      You think too much about the unions. It's just some politicians are out of touch of reality.

    2. snic Guest

      Don't French airlines have their own unions? 6 of one, half dozen of the other.

      And your argument that rail travel would win market share if it were superior in terms of comfort, punctuality and cleanliness is bunk. French trains are all of those yet many still choose to fly even though air travel is not as pleasant. That's because rail travel is generally more expensive, partly due to the thousands of miles of rail lines that have to be maintained.

    3. billb303 New Member

      French rail travel *is* superior in terms of comfort, punctuality and cleanliness. The market has not yet rendered the air routes extinct, but probably would over time. Sounds like the French government is simply helping it along.

      Your statement seems to indicate that you haven't yet tried the French rail system, so you may want to hold off on the judgements until you do. French intermodal travel is also extraordinarily well developed - unlike here...

      French rail travel *is* superior in terms of comfort, punctuality and cleanliness. The market has not yet rendered the air routes extinct, but probably would over time. Sounds like the French government is simply helping it along.

      Your statement seems to indicate that you haven't yet tried the French rail system, so you may want to hold off on the judgements until you do. French intermodal travel is also extraordinarily well developed - unlike here - so that getting to that TGV that goes from Paris to Lyon, Paris to Bordeaux, etc., - is pretty straightforward without having to hop in a car and driving a few hours first. The fact that these trains go from city center (or airport) to city center makes them, in many cases, vastly simpler and quicker than time necessary to fly.

    4. Benedict Guest

      The TGV has likely had a huge effect on French domestic air routes. In the same way there are now vastly fewer planes between Madrid and Barcelona due to high speed trains; no planes I believe between Paris and Brussels now due to Thalys trains and fewer London to Paris planes due to the Eurostar. Some people will still opt to take the plane, sure, but to suggest high speed trains aren't superior in terms of comfort, punctuality, and cleanliness is barmy.

  14. Jamieo Guest

    French trains are great. Speedy and clean. City center to city center. I wouldn’t even consider a domestic flight.

  15. betterbub Member

    This is a good policy, I'd like Singapore to do this with their domestic routes

  16. Unhoeflich Diamond

    Off topic, but there is an Aeroflot A320 at KEF right now. VQ-BKS having come from Bangor.

  17. Never In Doubt Guest

    "I can’t help but wonder if frequencies were simply increased out of Charles de Gaulle to make up for cuts out of Orly"

    I'd be shocked if that wasn't the result. (or alternately the CDG flights get more crowded)

    So, *one* route (Lyon to Marseille) is nixed.

    Meaningless French posturing.

    1. AA70 Gold

      We did it Patrick! We saved the city!

    2. Eskimo Guest

      And the irony that isn't discussed is ORY doesn't have a TGV station. Whereas, CDG could have replaced all those routes right from its own TGV station.

    3. Rain Guest

      I imagine they didn't want the headache of having to deal with connecting baggage issues but they could easily have done it with caveat that connecting passengers are responsible for their own bags.
      Either that or they couldn't figure out a deal with the railway company to making connecting itenraries.

    4. AA70 Gold

      Which is sad, Lufthansa lets you purchase rail connectivity on ICE as part of one ticket

    5. Bob Guest

      So does Air France for 30 years alreaday!

    6. Bob Guest

      "So, *one* route (Lyon to Marseille) is nixed."

      I am not even sure this route is really nixed because AF (Well Hop) has operated it all the last year.

      It is still neede for example for business travellers coming from Caen airport or Strasbourg airport...

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Mike Guest

I know I don’t have the full picture but struggling to see why anyone would want to fly these routes. Did paris to Bordeaux just before covid and the trip to Lyon many times. By the time you account for the trip to the airport, the nightmare that Paris airports are (CDG in particular) and the whole dependency on weather conditions, taking the train is a much better idea. CDG airport has a good train station that already serves most of these cities (as far as Brussels), so I’d consider train even following a long haul flight

3
Jamieo Guest

French trains are great. Speedy and clean. City center to city center. I wouldn’t even consider a domestic flight.

3
Nun Guest

Did they ban the even less efficient domestic flights of private jets country wide? I highly doubt it.

2
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