France approves ban on short-haul flights in climate push

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
Air France Airbus A321 aircraft as seen flying on final approach for landing at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport AMS EHAM during a misty weather morning. The A321-200 airplane has the registration F-GTAD and is powered by 2x CFMI jet engines. Air France AIRFRANCE AFR is the flag carrier of France, a subsidiary of Air France-KLM Group member of SkyTeam aviation alliance group with the main hub at Charles de Gaulle Airport. According to local and international media in April 2021, the French government will inject up to 4 billion Euro to the airline, with the French state becoming the largest shareholder. The world aviation passenger traffic numbers declined due to the travel restrictions, safety measures such as lockdowns, quarantine etc during the era of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic that hit hard the aviation and travel industry. Amsterdam, Netherlands on April 1, 2021 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The move to ban some domestic flights in France comes following a state-backed bailout of its flag carrier. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

French officials moved late on Saturday to ban domestic flights on routes that are connected by train and can be travelled in less than two-and-a-half hours. 

The vote comes as governments around the world look at ways to lower carbon emissions and achieve net-zero targets. 

It forms part of a broader climate bill from France which looks to cut carbon emissions from 1990's levels by 40% by 2030.

The policy attracted criticism from the hard-hit aviation industry, which has said now is not the time to ban a portion of its business. These claims were dismissed by industry minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher. 

The move comes in parallel to proposals made by the UK government in March which instead look to tax long-haul flights taken from the UK in a push to rebalance carbon emissions. 

A consultation is being launched, among other changes, on a potential shake up of air passenger duty (APD).

In contrast to France, at the time the Treasury has said it could improve connections across the union and regions by cutting the tax on domestic flights.

READ MORE: UK government to dilute rules on overseas takeovers

This, the government said, would reinforce the “polluter pays principle,” by ensuring that those who travel furthest internationally, and consequently have the greatest impact on the environment, incur the most duty.

The Treasury also effectively ruled out a frequent flier levy, a measure which some had called for to reduce carbon emissions.

The vote on France's short-haul ban came following a €4bn ($4.8bn, £3.5bn) state-backed recapitalisation of Air France (AIRF.VI). This more than doubled its stake in the airline and acted to re-ground finances after a challenging year. 

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?