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France Tried to End Short-Haul Flights, Has a Ban in Place, Oops Moment Occurred

These days, most governments around the world are looking for ways to solve the energy and climate crisis in their countries. Some of the solutions proposed are not ideal, while others just sound absurd. Other proposals might work, but one cannot help but wonder about their impact. Such is the case with what sounded like a clever idea in France but ended up having a limited application.
Hitachi "tri-brid" train used in Italy - for illustration purposes only 16 photos
Porsche Cayenne Diesel tows Airbus A380Porsche Cayenne Diesel tows Airbus A380Porsche Cayenne Diesel tows Airbus A380Porsche Cayenne Diesel tows Airbus A380Porsche Cayenne Diesel tows Airbus A380Hitachi "tri-brid" Hybrid Train, also called Blues Train, in Trenitalia's Frecciarossa liveryHitachi "tri-brid" Hybrid Train, also called Blues Train, in Trenitalia's Frecciarossa liveryHitachi "tri-brid" Hybrid Train, also called Blues Train, in Trenitalia's Frecciarossa liveryHitachi "tri-brid" Hybrid Train, also called Blues Train, in Trenitalia's Frecciarossa liveryHitachi "tri-brid" Hybrid Train, also called Blues Train, in Trenitalia's Frecciarossa liveryHitachi "tri-brid" Hybrid Train, also called Blues Train, in Trenitalia's Frecciarossa liveryHitachi "tri-brid" Hybrid Train, also called Blues Train, in Trenitalia's Frecciarossa liveryBentley Mulsanne "Locomotive Edition"Bentley Mulsanne "Locomotive Edition"Bentley Mulsanne "Locomotive Edition"
We are writing about France's latest ban on short domestic flights that can be replaced by a train ride no longer than two and a half hours. As some of you may already be aware, France is known for having a high-speed rail network that covers important connections between its cities with the TGV (Train Grande Vitesse, or French for high-speed train).

The point of the ban, first enforced in 2021 and applied since then but later refined, was to have passengers choose trains instead of short flights. That sounds like a great idea for cutting emissions without wasting too much time, right?

According to environmentalists and supporters of the ban, opting to fly instead of a train trip that takes less than two and a half hours will generate increased CO2 emissions, and the decision should always be in favor of the train.

As you can imagine, airlines, airports, and other aviation-related enterprises were not happy with the ban. According to them, key connections across France from other airports are being closed-off due to the ban, which makes it worse for business and freedom of travel than it is positive for the environment.

Porsche Cayenne Diesel tows Airbus A380
Later, the European Commission was asked to decide regarding the allowance of the ban, especially if it limited the business opportunities of other companies that operate in France while appearing to protect the country's rail network.

To be entirely fair, the lawmakers have complied with EU regulations that involved not affecting competition between air carriers, not applying discriminatory prohibitions, and avoiding making the restrictions stricter than it is necessary to fix the problem.

The European Commission has only approved the ban for a three-year trial, and it has been in effect for one year, and French lawmakers will gauge its effectiveness in two years.

Moreover, the ban has received a clarified rule that it can only be applied if there is an existing rail route that can transport the same number of passengers between the same locations as the airline route in question.

Bentley Mulsanne "Locomotive Edition"
In other words, if there is no rail connection between two cities that is under two and a half hours long and that cannot transport enough passengers as an aircraft, it cannot be banned with this new law.

Now, this is the kicker, and I would like you all to imagine that I have added the DJ Khaled meme where it writes, "Congratulations, you played yourself" here. Why? Because the ban initially affected eight flights, but the later clarification led to just three routes being banned for the moment.

The complete elimination of short flight routes in France may come if rail systems, as well as the accompanying networks, get expanded to cover all the flight connections. Sadly, the infrastructure is just not there. Therefore, only flights between Paris-Orly and Bordeaux, Nantes, and Lyon are not allowed, as Politico notes.

Even then, going from the ability to choose a single method of travel instead of having to get on a train instead of just flying may be an unfortunate situation for many, especially when several flight segments are involved.

Bentley Mulsanne "Locomotive Edition"
Not all the airports in France have an ideal integration with the rail network, so transfers might not be ideal across the board. If the railroad workers strike, there goes your flight. See where this is going? To be fair, it can happen either way with strikes in France.

Having options is great, and a potential solution would have been a mandatory minimum price of a flight in that segment being higher than a rail ticket. We do not know if that was possible from a legal standpoint, but that is another issue and not our job to determine or fix.

Convenience has flown out the window, as you can imagine because a transfer between two flights in an airport can run smoother than a train transfer, but it can be done the other way round, and a train transfer might run smoothly. It depends on too many factors, and someone else may have a different opinion than you on the topic.

With that being explained, it is both sad that what should have been a positive initiative for the environment is not helping that much, and it is also funny in an ironic manner that makes us think of a word that comes from Germany, not France, and that word is Schadenfreude. It does not have a direct corresponding word to allow for it to be translated per se, but it means experiencing joy from learning or witnessing the troubles or failures of another.

Editor's note: For illustration purposes, the photo gallery shows various airplanes, some of which may have the Air France livery, as well as trains - even though the latter are not from France.
This article was not sponsored or supported by a third party in any way.

 
 
 
 
 

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