France bans short-haul domestic flights in bid to boost rail travel

French President Emmanuel Macron   (AFP via Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron (AFP via Getty Images)

France has banned short-haul domestic flights between cities where there is an existing rail connection that takes less than two and a half hours.

The move will put an end to flights between Paris Orly airport and the cities of Nantes, Bordeaux and Lyon.

The final number of axed flights stops short of the eight routes French MPs had proposed to cut under its 2021 climate law. If rail services improve more routes could join the list.

The move has been implemented in a bid to reduce CO2 emissions in Europe.

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

Brussels had found that “banning these trips will only have minimal effects” on CO2 output, he added.

Some European MPs hope the law will expand to routes across the continent as new high-speed rail lines are constructed.

While the current rail journey between Paris and Milan, for example, takes more than seven hours, the opening of the new 36-mile Mont Cenis base tunnel will cut the travelling time in half.

It comes as French politicians have also been debating how to reduce emissions from private jets.

While Green MPs have called for banning small private flights altogether, Transport Minister Clement Beaune last month trailed a higher climate charge for users from next year.