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Ban on short domestic flights in France: European green light

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The European Commission has approved some amendments to the French procedure for canceling domestic flights when a train journey of less than two hours and 30 minutes is possible, according to a decision published on Friday, December 2 in the “Official Journal of the European Union”. The measure, a symbolic provision in the 2021 climate law, will have to be reviewed after three years and will also apply to connecting flights, the text specifies.

In December 2021, the European Executive announced that it would take place “deep analysis” of this project, which is disputed by the Union of French Aerodromes (UAF) jointly with the European branch of the Airports Council International (ACI Europe). The latter in particular considered that French law, which has the effect of prohibiting communications between Paris (Orly) and Nantes, Lyon or Bordeaux, introduced discrimination between carriers.

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Discussions took place between the Commission and the French government to ensure that the project complies with European legislation. Consequently, Paris had to waive the restriction stipulated by the law to connect flights, and the committee ruled that it had introduced a distortion of competition between airlines, especially those Its business model is not focused on connecting passengers..

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The European Regulation on Air Services (Article 20) provides that a Member State may, “Where there are serious environmental problems (…) that limit or deny the exercise of rights of way, particularly when other modes of transport provide a satisfactory service”.

However, it specifies that these measures must be “non-discriminatory”Don’t provoke “distorting competition between air carriers”do not be ‘Too restrictive’ And it should be A limited period of validity, not exceeding three years, after which it shall be re-examined.. This Article has not previously been invoked by a Member State.

Thus, the ban on short-haul air routes in France is in effect for three years, since France has to send the committee an assessment of the measure a year in advance. In a press release, Minister Plenipotentiary for Transport Clement Bion welcomed the commission’s decision constituting “A big step forward in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

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Affirms that the Brussels decision, “It will make it possible to launch new steps in effectively banning airlines when there is an alternative of less than 2 hours 30 by train” and poses “A big step forward and I’m proud that France is a pioneer in this field”.

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