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ENVIRONMENT

EU approves France’s domestic flights ban

The European Commission has approved France's ground-breaking ban on domestic short-haul flights, a key part of the country's climate goals.

EU approves France's domestic flights ban
Illustration photo: Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

The ban on French domestic flights was voted into effect in April 2021, and banned any flight where the distance culd be travelled by train in less than two-and-a-half hours.

It was put into effect later in the year but was challenged at an EU level by airport operators.

However the European Commission has now published its decision where it not only approved the ban, but removes an exemption for connecting flights. The decision could pave the way for other European countries to follow France’s lead.

How does the ban work?

Flights are banned if there are several daily direct trains available for the same journey, and the train ride can be done in two-and-a-half hours or less.

This means that the following flights have been scrapped;

  • Paris Orly-Lyon
  • Paris Orly-Bordeaux
  • Paris Orly-Nantes

Paris-Nice (six hours by train), Paris-Toulouse and Paris-Marseille (both between three and four hours by train) will continue as usual.

The original French law contained an exemption for connecting flights, but the Commission has ruled that this unfairly favours certain airlines.

Why?

The law is part of a far-reaching climate bill proposed by the French Climate Convention – La Convention citoyenne pour le climat – set up to help the French government reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. 

The full bill is called Projet de loi sur la lutte contre le dérèglement climatique (Bill on the fight against climate change) and aims to decrease climate gas emissions by targeting several aspects of daily life, from travel to work to housing and agriculture.

It is a watered-down version of the initial Citizen Council’s proposal, which wanted to abolish flights that could be replaced by a train trip of less than four hours.

The law does not apply to flights by private jet, and the Paris-Saint-Germain football team found themselves at the centre of an outcry when they were pictured taking a private jet to a match in Nantes – just two hours away by train.

France’s national rugby team have entered into a partnership with SNCF and post pictures of their players laughing, relaxing and playing cards together as they travel to matches by train. 

Member comments

  1. well – what can you say – the early train from Bordeaux to Paris arrives after all the flights to the UK (and many other european destinations) have left, as a result you need to hang around for hours waiting for the evening flights – so that would also need to be addressed with the complete renegotiation of flight slots.
    Secondly the train is expensive and more often than not late –
    thirdly you have to make two bookings – one for the train one for your flight – if there is a problem with one there is no obligation on the other to assist you on getting to your destination
    fourthly and finally – it is cheaper to go from bordeaux to amsterdam and then fly to the uk than to get to Paris and fly to the UK – thus increasing carbon emissions
    you could not make it up

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WEATHER

Snow warnings for northern and central France as winter weather arrives

After snow fell over much of France Monday morning, several départements were placed on the "yellow" weather warning as the country expects more winter weather later in the week.

Snow warnings for northern and central France as winter weather arrives

Winter weather has made its way to France. On Monday, Météo-France placed 24 departments under the “yellow” warning on Monday, over snow and ice. 

The départements concerned were primarily located in France’s north, north-east, and centre.

Screenshot from Météo France

Snowflakes made their appearance in Hauts de France and the Paris region on Monday morning, with a few centimetres accumulated in the Grand-Est region. 

In Lozere, significant snowfall on Monday left several motorists blocked in traffic on the A75. 

Ski season opened at several resorts, such as the high-altitude Val Thorens resort, in the French Alps this weekend.

As of Monday morning, six of France’s mountainous departments, from Haute-Savoie to Alpes-Maritimes were placed on the “yellow” (be aware) alert for avalanches on Monday.

Where snow is expected later this week

According to BFMTV, the remainder of the week will be marked by dry, cold weather across much of the northern parts of France, but the snowflakes are likely to return over the weekend, from Friday through Sunday.

Météo France expects temperatures to be colder than average this week, by about 4 to 5C chillier than seasonal norms.

Snowfall may begin on Friday morning, starting in France’s east and centre, particularly in the Oise and Cher départements. Later in the evening, light snowflakes are expected to fall on the départements north of the Seine and as far east as Alsace, particularly impacting Ille-et-Vilaine, Mayenne, Orne, Sarthe, Maine-et-Loire and Indre-et-Loire could also be affected.

Over the weekend, about two thirds of the northern part of the country will get to see some flurries, and by Sunday morning, a large northeast quarter of France could have a dusting of snow over the ground before higher temperatures turn the snow to rain later in the day.

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