In a report dedicated to the executive’s desire to ban Air France from operating domestic flights for which there is an alternative by train in less than 2:30, Greenpeace recommends introducing a much more ambitious ban and points out the reasons for which the currently envisaged ban could remain ineffective.
Domestic flights: a ban that is not one
In spring 2020, “transforming itself to become a greener company” was a condition for Air France to benefit from massive state aid. Among the various injunctions, there was that to refrain from operating domestic flights for which there is an alternative by train in less than 2:30. Easy to say… but much more complicated to implement. As a freshly released Greenpeace report highlights, a provision being considered by the government would render this ban on domestic flights simply ineffective.
The executive plans to save by this ban flights to Roissy airport, which passengers take mainly to make a connection to an international flight. (According to the government’s logic, all international flights would take off from Roissy.) If this logic is indeed retained, Air France will simply be able to redirect all its flights to Orly to Roissy, thus bypassing the ban. Roissy airport is already widely used for domestic flights: 54% of traffic passes through Roissy on the Paris-Bordeaux line, 78% on the Paris-Lyon line and 82% on the Paris-Nantes line.
For Greenpeace, the executive should make this ban much broader and subject to it all flights for which there is an alternative by train in less than 5 hours. Such a ban would reduce the carbon footprint of domestic flights (excluding Corsica and overseas) by 60.6%
Paris-provincial flights, already in decline before the Covid-19 epidemic
It should be noted that before the Covid-19 epidemic, the demand for domestic flights had not stopped growing. In January 2020, the number of passengers on the Paris-Nice line had increased by 1% compared to January 2019. The increase was 2% on Paris-Toulouse, Paris-Marseille and 5% on Paris-Montpellier.
According to Greenpeace, the only air connections that make sense are the Province-Province connections (so-called “transversal”). Over the past five years, for example, the increase in traffic has been 55% on Lyon-Nantes and 75% on Bordeaux-Marseille. Conversely, the Paris-Bordeaux airline line, which has faced strong competition from the arrival of a high-speed rail line since 2017, has seen its traffic decrease by 21%. Moreover, on these lines the plane is all the less relevant as the Roissy airport has a TGV station, served by trains from Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes and Rennes.