A new ban on domestic flights has been approved by Brussels and will apply to domestic flights in France where there is an existing alternative by rail that takes less than two and a half hours. This will have the immediate effect of ending flights between Paris Orly airport and the cities of Lyon, Nantes and Bordeaux.

The EU ruling on the ban stipulated that it could only be operated on routes which offered several direct rail connections each day.  If rail services improve, further flights could be banned, including the Lyon - Marseille route and flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Lyon and Rennes.

Emissions in carbon dioxide equivalent are extremely high for domestic flights, at around 255g CO2e per passenger per kilometre.  Emissions from rail journeys are much lower, at 41g CO2e per passenger per kilometre.  So this action by the French government will make an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from domestic travel in the country.  

The ban will not come into force for several months.  It has been welcomed by environmentalists, but has also been described as a “baby step”, albeit one in the right direction.  European lawmakers in several other EU countries are hoping to expand the new ban across other Europe as new high-speed rail lines are constructed across the continent.  

Austrian Airlines replaced flights from Vienna to Salzburg with an increased rail service last year.

There is currently no indication that the UK government intends to introduce a similar ban.