French Government Seeks to Ban Short-Haul Domestic Flights to Limit Climate Damage

French regulators voted to abolish domestic flights on routes that can be covered by train in under two and a half hours, as the government seeks to “lower carbon emissions,” amid the pandemic travel restrictions.

The voting happened on Saturday after the state said it would contribute to the $4.76 billion recapitalization of Air France, which was more than double of its stake in the flag carrier to support its finances over a year of COVID-19 travel curbs.

The ban was part of a broader climate bill that aims to cut French carbon emissions by 40 percent in 2030 from 1990 levels.

Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher meanwhile dismissed criticism from the aviation industry that a pandemic recovery was not the time to ban some domestic flights.

“We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions,” she told local radio.

“Equally, we must support our companies and not let them fall by the wayside,” she added.

McKinsey analysts forecast said that air traffic may not return to pre-crisis levels before 2024.

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