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France Bans Short-Haul Domestic Flights Despite Widespread Criticism

•,by Thomas Brooke

France's ban on short-haul domestic flights when there is a viable train alternative came into effect on Tuesday, as the French government seeks to reduce the country's carbon emissions.

The law had been in the works for over two years following the passing of a 2021 climate law which had initially moved to prohibit any domestic flight under four hours when passengers could instead take the train.

However, several reviews of the legislation following widespread criticism reduced this to a duration of two and a half hours.

The move will directly affect three major air routes from Paris to Lyon, Nantes, and Bordeaux.

Laurent Donceel, interim head of industry group Airlines for Europe (A4E), told AFP that governments should support "real and significant solutions" to airline emissions, rather than "symbolic bans."

Other critics claimed the legislation falls foul of EU competition laws, a point reviewed by the European Commission in December last year. The EU executive gave the green light for the radical climate laws on the proviso that "the negative impacts on European citizens and connectivity of any restriction of traffic rights is offset by the availability of affordable, convenient and more sustainable alternative transport modes."

Following the go-ahead from Brussels, France's Transport Minister Clément Beaune called the move a "major step forward," adding: "I am proud that France is a pioneer in this area."

The move comes as the French government continues to debate how to reduce its carbon footprint, and this week, the country's richest were targeted in a proposed one-off green tax to help France succeed in its environmental transition.