Brussels opens investigation into the abolition of domestic flights in France

Voted last August in the framework of the Climate and Resilience law, the abolition of internal lines, when there is a rail alternative in less than 2:30, may have lead in the wing. Decided in return for the aid granted to Air France in May 2020, this flagship measure of the Climate Law has been the subject of several complaints from various air transport players.

Last week, the European Commission decided to launch an examination procedure against this measure, much criticized by air transport. The opening of this investigation follows the complaint filed by several associations including SCARA, the union of autonomous airlines, a union to which Air France does not belong but also the UAF the Union of French airports and the ACI, the Association of European Airports.

All denounce discrimination, a distortion of competition compared to the train, and above all are indignant at a decision taken by the French State unilaterally, without any consultation or impact study, which is contrary, according to them, to European principles.

Such a ban could be taken under Article 20 of the European regulation, but on one condition, in the event of serious damage to the environment. and that it be limited in time. However, according to Thomas Juin, President of the UAF, quoted by our colleagues from Echoes and of The gallery, No impact study has shown serious damage to the environment, nor any study, on the impact of substitute behavior, train, car, or private plane. This article of law breaks with one of the founding principles of Europe, that is to say the freedom to provide “, concludes Thomas Juin.

Brussels therefore wants to verify the compatibility of article 145 of the Climate and Resilience Act with European texts. Remember that this ban on France, supposed to come into force next March, concerns four lines already abandoned by Air France, the most important Orly-Bordeaux, Orly-Lyon, Orly-Nantes and Lyon-Marseille. Four lines abandoned by the national company under the conditions for obtaining its public aid of 7 billion euros.

According to aviation professionals, these four lines represent in aggregate only 0.23% of CO2 emissions from French domestic air transport and 0.04% of emissions from all transport in France.

A disproportionate and unsuitable measure in the fight against climate change, indignant the sector, but which could set a precedent. Brussels has promised to give a quick response.

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