French parliament backs cuts in domestic flight routes

The cut in French domestic flight routes is part of a wide-ranging package of measures to fight climate change
The cut in French domestic flight routes is part of a wide-ranging package of measures to fight climate change ERIC PIERMONT AFP/File
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Paris (AFP)

French parliament has voted to cut domestic flight routes where the same destination can be reached by train in under 2.5 hours, in order to reduce carbon emissions.

The measure, approved by MPs over the weekend, is part of a wide-ranging package of measures to fight climate change backed by President Emmanuel Macron.

The bill, which now goes before the Senate before a final vote in parliament, calls for routes between Paris and Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux to be abandoned, except for corresponding flights.

The move falls short of demands by a citizens' climate convention set up by Macron, which had called for flights to be banned if trains could cover the same distance in under four hours.

The government already told Air France it had to cut short-haul flights in return for a public aid package to help it weather a downturn caused by Covid restrictions.

The draft law means that competitors cannot lay a claim to those routes either.

The bill ran into fierce resistance from MPs from southwestern France, home to the Airbus aircraft maker and many of its sub-contractors.

Joel Aviragnet, a Socialist lawmaker from the Haute-Garonne region, said the law would lead to job losses and a "disproportionate human cost".

His party colleague David Habib said the law would lead to "negative growth" and "unemployment".

But some parliamentarians said the ban did not go far enough, with left-winger Daniele Obono saying that a stricter law could rid the country of some of the most polluting flight routes, such as those between Paris and Nice, Toulouse and Marseille.

According to the draft law, the government will be able to cut further routes by decree.

It also calls for a carbon-offset tax on domestic routes.