France’s ban on short domestic flights is now in effect

The controversial rule applies to air routes where a train or bus alternative of less than 2.5 hours exists.

By Staff Writers, May 24 2023
France’s ban on short domestic flights is now in effect

Next time you visit France, you may be required to take the train or bus on certain journeys, with the country’s ban on flights under 2.5 hours – where a frequent, timely alternative exists – officially coming into effect in recent days.

The ban initially impacts flights from Paris Orly to Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon, though it may be expanded to include other routes after three years, if the concept proves successful.

As an example, Paris and Lyon are roughly 400 kilometres apart, with a high-speed train taking 1 hour and 57 minutes, versus a flight time of approx. 1 hour and 10 minutes. 

“This is an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” explains French Transport Minister, Clement Beaune.

“As we fight relentlessly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train.”

It’s expected up to 12% of the country’s domestic routes will be culled under the ban, which was devised in 2021 as part of the French government’s €4 billion rescue package for Air France after it reported staggering losses due to the pandemic.

The plan initially proposed banning trips of four hours by air, however this was reduced after objections from Air France-KLM and representatives of affected regions.

Environmental groups are pushing for the flight ban to go even further, with Greenpeace previously suggesting it should extend to six hours where a train alternative is available.

The Austrian government previously considered a similar step as part of a bailout of Austrian Airlines, suggesting that domestic flights be axed where a train ride of up to three hours is available, such as between Vienna and Salzburg.

It was estimated that 80% of short-range flights in Austria could be replaced by trips on the country’s sprawling OBB state rail network.

12 Aug 2022

Total posts 9

Sure if you live in Paris, it makes sense to get a train to Bordeaux as its less than 2 hours. However, if I've just touched down in CDG and want to go to Bordeaux it's a lot easier to fly vs the 4 hours on a train many of which include a change.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 385

Ridiculous decision.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 180

Completely understand why they are looking at this. However this makes it very difficult for those starting regionally and trying to make early morning flights or anytime connections to the rest of europe/long haul. People will definitely need far more time for their travel.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 568

What this article fail to mention is that the ban does not affect connecting flights so a flight from Singapore to Lyons can still change at CDG (as a stated example from other sources) although the will probably significantly affect the viability of short haul internal flights if only connecting flight pax is involved, including the airlines and airport involved.

As indicated by many, this move to ban short haul flights is more virtue signaling since the majority of internal regional travel in France are already by fast trains which bring pax from one CBD to another with minimal fuss.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 671

Unless the train connection is at the airport - no thanks. Esp after a long haul flight. Hope this doesn't end up effecting CDG.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 168

As JohnnyFlyve points out, it's probably going to be fine for the locals. But for millions of ultra long-haul pax arriving into Paris from Asia/Pacific, this will be an inconvenience (to put it lightly) if you must travel further into regional France. Imagine those countless millions having to schlep all the way to the Gare du Nord or Gare de'l Est or whatever station, to join the countless millions of local commuters, dragging their luggage and a bad case of jetlag to waste umpteen more hours in a carriage on an overburdened system. Yes, I think I'd be...unimpressed.

I hope our gov't will never order us all to ditch planes and use a mode of transport from the pre-Victorian 19th Century(!) without adequate upsizing of resources. Because a similar government mandate would not end well here in Oz..

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 388

Are you aware how much high speed rail technology and speeds have evolved in the last 20 years?

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 388

Are you aware how much high speed rail technology and speeds have evolved in the last 20 years?

It's a mode of transport being adopted by more and more nations.  A heck of a lot more comfortable than an A320 or B773/B738!

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 168

Are you aware that your sarcasm falls flat and that most connecting pax would prefer a quicker and 'one-stop' option to get to their destination after 16 hours in the air. Oh, but of course you don't..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 57

Good decision by the French to give this a go. Took a TGV from Lyon straight into CDG recently - seats were better than economy and wifi was decent. Makes no sense to fly between Paris and Lyon most of the time. 

Hope other countries try this out also. We really need high-speed trains between CBR-SYD-NTL. 

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 57

private jets exempt. how convenient. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 126

As mentioned by others it’s not going to work unless you are connecting from the airport to the service. Frankfurt has trains operating to some cities like Dortmund but your rail service starts from Frankfurt airport so it’s not that bad. But with this change it’s just going to take passengers away from AF to competing carriers that will still be flying into cities like Lyon and will affect tourism $’s in Paris as well as AF revenues. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 464

It would not work for Australia either. Look at Adelaide to Melbourne It's about a 11 to 12 hour train journey versus say 80 minutes by plane(Sure if we had a Eurostar or Acela style operation with limited stops it would cut the travel times in half)similarly Melbourne to Sydney is about the same in travel time by plane and also 11 to 12 hours on a Train(Hi speed trains like Japan/China are what Australia needs to make it competitive)In fact what works in Europe does not work in the rest of the world.


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