Back in April 2022, France banned domestic flights for routes that would take two and a half hours or less by train. The measure was taken because of environmental concerns as the country is looking to cut CO2 emissions by 40% and bring them back to 1990s levels by 2030.
Some examples of such routes include flights from Paris to cities such as Bordeaux, Nantes, or Lyon. And while the ban affects only 12% of all domestic flights in France according to The Guardian, the measure could have important implications for changing consumption patterns and decreasing carbon emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the aviation industry, as well as governments and consumers, to consider a more sustainable future for the travel industry.
In fact, a GlobalData poll indicated that 67% of respondents see the pandemic as a turning point for the future of air travel, while another GlobalData Study showed that 74% of respondents across the globe see environment-related issues as “extremely” or “quite” important.
Other countries are also considering implementing a similar ban to the one in France. The UK could do so for close-by cities like London and Manchester. A train journey between the two takes about two hours and leads to six times less CO2 emissions than a plane flight.
The Austrian government has said domestic flights should be removed if train rides shorter than three hours exist for the same route.
And while the pandemic has proved to be an important catalyst for environmental action in air travel, there have also been negative implications. The demand for private jets, which cause significant emissions, has notably risen in the past few months. The reason: rich passengers prefer to book private flights in order to avoid travel issues that still remain unresolved due to the pandemic.
A study by Transport & Environment, however, argues that private jets should not be banned as they could serve as a great testing ground for a cleaner aviation future. Private jets are worth €1.3 billion on average, the NGO says, and they can afford to finance tech development in the field of green air travel. In addition, the first hydrogen-fueled or electric planes would only carry a few passengers on shorter distance, just like private jets.