France Has Started Banning Domestic Flights & More Countries Could Follow

air france bans domestic travel

Hopping around France by flying between cities like Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon will soon be a thing of the past as the French Government has announced a ban on short-haul domestic flights. As of April 2022, several domestic flights for routes that could otherwise be covered in under 2 hours and 30 minutes by train will cease to operate in accordance with the French government’s efforts to tackle climate change and lower carbon emissions from air travel. And while it’s not quite as drastic as it first appears, and may even be more tokenistic than genuinely progressive, the implications for travel within France, as well as broader travel within the European Union, could change the way we move around the continent for the foreseeable future.

The move for France to ban shorter domestic flights is being described as a “very hesitant step in the right direction” by Greenpeace, which released an extensive report on the matter last year indicating the French ban, as it stands, represents less than 1% reduction in carbon emissions for the country’s prominent aviation industry.

The aforementioned report suggests various countries across the European Union move quickly to ban short-haul domestic travel wherever a destination can be reached in under six hours by rail. While France’s initial move to eliminate domestic travel isn’t quite as lofty, it could very well be that this is just the first step in a wider reshuffling of the aviation industry. And if that’s the case, it won’t be just France – or even Europe – that’ll be affected, given the urgency.



While similar talks are being had in countries like Germany and Spain, where short-haul domestic flights are just as frequent, France has become the world’s first major economy to make a move towards putting the kibosh on domestic air travel. Services on the chopping board include routes from Paris Orly Airport to tourist hotspots like the aforementioned Bordeaux and Lyon, as well as Nantes.

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Exceptions to the current ban will be made for cities that provide connections to international flights, hence France’s conservative step towards a more eco-friendly aviation industry. This also only really applies to flights out of Paris Orly, which is Air France’s secondary hub, with flights out of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport unaffected… for now.

Broader flight bans have the majority of public support across the European Union. A survey published by the European Investment Bank in 2020 revealed that 62% of Europeans support a wider ban on all short-haul flights. Compare this with 49% of Americans who support similar measures in the United States.

Granted, even if this did happen in the US, the country’s rail infrastructure doesn’t quite reach the level of accessibility enjoyed by Europeans. The EU’s plans to double high-speed trail traffic by 2030 is already well underway, and France could be leading the charge by establishing slicker and more viable rail travel alternatives in time for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

In news that will no doubt have low-cost carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair trembling, Austria may be the next country to take a similar approach. Already, European lawmakers have put pressure on Austrian Airlines to eliminate domestic flights where alternative train journeys under three hours were available. This stipulation was part of the airlines’ pandemic bailout in 2020, spilling over to already affect the carrier’s popular route between Vienna and Salzburg.

The aviation industry’s substantial carbon emissions problem is obviously too complex and large to be solved by steps as small as France banning just some domestic flights (banned flights have been listed below), but experts do say such measures can provide some immediacy to the issue. Regardless, flights shorter than 311 miles, which accounted for 31% of all European flights in 2020, contribute just over 4% of the European Union’s total aviation emissions – according to a report by Eurocontrol. Long-haul flights, on the other hand, made up 6% of all European flights and contributed around 52% of emissions.



France’s initial move to ban domestic flights only affects five out of the 108 pre-pandemic domestic routes in the country. They are as follows:

  • Paris Orly to Bordeaux
  • Paris Orly to Lyon
  • Paris Orly to Nantes
  • Paris Orly to Rennes
  • Lyon to Marseille.

If you’re planning a trip to France anytime soon, it’ll be a good idea to pay close attention to the above as well as any future developments as the EU starts a slow crawl towards completely changing the way travellers navigate the continent.