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Brussels gives France green light to ban domestic short-haul flights

The European Commission has given the green light to France for its proposal to ban domestic flights where a rail alternative taking less than 2.5 hours exists.

Rather than being of indefinite duration, the ban will be for an initial period of three years; the French government apparently also had to produce evidence of the environmental effects of the policy. The French decree promulgating the ban can therefore now be published.

The European Air Services Regulation provides (Article 20) that a Member State may, “where there are serious environmental problems (…) limit or refuse the exercise of traffic rights, in particular when other modes of transport provide a satisfactory service”.

The only routes to be affected will be Paris Orly to Aéroport de Bordeaux, Aéroport Nantes Atlantique, and Aéroports de Lyon. Routes to CDG from these airports will not be affected.

Some air routes put forward – notably from the French capital’s primary airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle – were given a reprieve as the relevant train connections breached the 2 hours 30 minutes cap. Should these rail connections improve, however, there could in future be scope for the flights on these routes to be grounded.

“This has so little effect that in its current state it is more “sustainability theatre” than anything else,” commented one industry expert.





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