A group of French politicians is proposing to ban some internal flights in a bid to cut carbon dioxide emissions in an amendment to a law on future mobility.

France’s government is debating a draft law on the future mobility and several members of parliament including the Socialist former environment minister Delphine Batho have tabled an amendment that proposes a ban on internal flights for routes on which the same journey can be made by train in less than five hours.

“In 2016, France ratified the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. To achieve this, we will have to reduce emissions in the transport sector, which is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gases at a national level,” the text of the amendment read.

The proposal cites government figures it says show a Paris-Marseille flight emits 178 kg (392 lbs.) of CO2 equivalent per passenger, a figure industry insiders say is much too high, compared with 4.14 kg for the same journey by train. 

French Environment Minister Francois Rugy told BFM TV June 3 that the proposition was “not very serious,” adding that high-speed trains had naturally drawn passengers away from flights on many routes, so any ban would hit services on which rail services are not yet a fast enough alternative to flying.

Pilots’ union SPAF said in a June 5 statement that the amendment, if adopted, would lead to the loss of at least 72 internal flights and called the measures “as unfair as they are unfounded.”

Air France last month said it would be cutting its domestic network by 15% by the end of 2021 in the face of growing competition from LCCs and high-speed trains.

Rugy also told BFM TV that changing an international law dating from 1944 that prevents taxation on kerosene would be a “priority” for the next European Commission and that France would be pushing for tax on aviation fuel for flights within Europe.

Helen Massy-Beresford, helen.massy-beresford@aviationweek.co.uk