Eco-Friendly or Eco-Failure? The Unexpected Impact of France’s Flight Ban

As part of a massive pandemic bailout of Air France KLM the French government banned the airline from flying the shortest domestic hops that can be taken by train in the name of the environment. This affects three routes: Paris-Orly airport to Bordeaux, Lyon, and Nantes. The Dutch government has considered a similar move.

However at slot restricted airports, they’re just swapping out shorter flights for longer ones as pointed out by former Director of Strategy at British Airways parent company IAG:

Air France is actually planning to leave Orly airport entirely by 2026. Orly had been preferred by business travelers, often making same-day domestic trips, but that business has fallen markedly. The airport is closer to the city center, but not well-connected to public transit compared to Charles de Gaulle.

In the meantime, Air France slots given up at Orly have generally gone to IAG’s low cost carrier Vueling which operates extensively from the airport to places like Marrakech, Lisbon, Malaga and even Cairo which is over 2,000 miles away.

France is actually considering setting minimum prices for airline tickets which would protect Air France against low cost carriers like Vueling – favoring airlines that cram in fewer seats per plane and therefore burn more carbon per passenger.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Sadly it isn’t really news that government rules designed to address a problem cost money, inconvenience taxpayers, and ultimately fail to actually improve the problem in any way.

  2. The “environment” is healthier than at any time since the industrial revolution. Pollution is lower and forests have recovered. CO2 is a non problem, it’s a effect of natural temperature rise (oceans outgas CO2 as they rise in temperature), not the cause. How can CO2 be both the cause and the effect? Climate history would be constant runaway warming. You’ve all been duped into thinking every weather event and natural disaster is mankind’s fault. All these machinations are a waste of time, money, energy, and natural resources.

    Now go find something else to panic about, so elitist leftists can make money off of your new fears.

  3. Yes the climate has been changing. But here’s a hint. We can’t control it. How vain must you be to think you can? It’s just another manufactured crisis so people who think they are morally and intellectually superior can take more control of your life.

  4. I was just in France and took the TGV from Paris to Strasbourg. It was all of 1 hour and 46 minutes for 305 miles. The TGV station is in CDG and can take you straight to Strasbourg. The train emits 50 times less CO2 than flying. And you arrive in downtown Strasbourg. So the fact-free conspiracy theorist above is wrong on all counts. Faster, cheaper, better for the environment. And it’s more convenient. Funny how the government solutions in France are actually more efficient than a private business. You can say the same for Italy, Rome to Naples downtown to downtown in one hour and 10 minutes, average cost 25 euros. Get your heads out of the sand Americans.

  5. CO2 levels were stable for 800,000 years, staying close to 280 ppm. They started rising with the industrial revolution and have never stopped. When I was born (1950) they were around 310 ppm, now the number is above 420 or more. Meanwhile the atmosphere is becoming like top winding down as it spins more wildly. The science of global warming has been known for at least 5 generations and while correlation is not causation the models if anything underestimate how fast the planet is warming and what that is doing to the world. The oil companies buried their knowledge of this for decades and continued denial doesn’t change reality. Indeed CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases can form positive feedback loops and be both causes and effects, making the situation worse and even runway. The planet has had periods of such extremes before when massive volcanoes or organic debris led to huge spikes in these gases. Things eventually returned to normal but they took millions of years and created extinction events in the process.

  6. So what’s next catalytic converters on every house rooftop sewer vent pipe to control methane gas? Beans, beer and boiled eggs will be next along with beef. Geez!

  7. I think the criticism is half-baked.
    “Air France slots given up at Orly have generally gone to IAG’s low cost carrier Vueling which operates extensively from the airport to places like Marrakech, Lisbon, Malaga and even Cairo which is over 2,000 miles away”

    2000 mile trips are what airplanes are for. If the regulatory goal is to shift short-haul travel from air to rail, then it’s a success. Surely nobody is arguing that passengers are choosing to fly to Cairo instead of taking the train to Lyon.

  8. All these climate controls with have little if any impact on global temperatures. Eliminating CO2 is futile, however, the elimination of toxic fumes from carbon fuels is a definite win. Anyone who has visited Shanghai, Beijing or Delhi will attest that pollution in these cities is out of control. Its emissions from dirty old vehicles and smoke from uncontrolled factories that is causing these problems. Control of this kind of pollution should have a higher priority than to reduce CO2.

  9. @chris Riches: Not reducing CO2 emmissions is REALLY EXSEPENSIVE to LOTS OF PEOPLE. The least we can do is tax CO2 emissions so those making them are paying for the financial consequences.

    This post seems to be mixing up a bunch of different issues. Orly is better for flyers who then take cabs downtown. CDG is better for flyers who then take mass transit downtown…. or anywhere else a short haul away. So if you get rid of short haul flights, the airport with the better mass transit connections (CDG) suddenly become better than the airport that doesn’t and no longer had short-haul airline connections.

    Not sure what that has to do with people flying to Cairo.

    Or low cost carriers. Sure, the government should let the market figure out how big seat pitch should be (it’s not like there’s a lack of seats with larger seat pitch if the customer values pitch more than $$), but price supporting Air France vs low cost carriers has nothing to do with limiting short-haul flights in general.

  10. I can’t believe how Many of you deny the climate disaster we live in. Just look at the once great cities of New York and Miami. As predicted, in the 1970s, both became flooded and underwater in the year 2000. Millions died and tens of millions displaced How easy we forget

  11. @ Mantis:

    “How can CO2 be both the cause and the effect?”

    Something being both the cause and the effect happens all the time. It even has a name: feedback loop.

  12. I agree with others…
    The ban worked exactly as intended. It shifted short travel to trains and long overseas travel to plane. This is exactly what the authors of the law wanted.

    Although I know it’s popular to say that the government can never do anything right and that capitalism will save us all…. There are many instances where the reverse is true.

    I wish that we had the Shinkansen or the TGV

  13. @drrichard
    You are laughably misinformed. CO2 levels were not stable for 800k years. CO2 changes actually lag behind temperature change by a few hundred years over the long term, because, as I mentioned, they are the effect, not the cause. Al Gore didn’t mention that part.

    So as I mentioned, if higher CO2 causes higher temps, and higher temps causes higher CO2, ad nauseum, that feedback loop always results in runaway warming, which obviously hasn’t happened in earth’s history. So no, it doesn’t happen all the time. Now challenge yourself to why that hasn’t happened.

    I know most of you are so deeply brainwashed, so you’ll probably just keep on believing your leftist overlords, maybe someday you’ll realize that you’re all just useful idiots.

  14. Man-made climate change is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated. Yes, even bigger than the COVID scam.

    How is it possible so many people still haven’t figured out either of them?

  15. @ James, you have a habit of making big statements with nothing at all to support it. Contrast that with drrichard’s information filled post. Why do you think it’s fraud … do educate us.

  16. Well, we know which side of the debate Jake-1 stands. The misinformed one. Also, we get to hear from A.I. bot rog.

    drrichard’s information filled post? Sorry, that would require reliable sources or proven facts. His statements contain neither.

  17. Again, @ James, any useful information/thoughts to share? I’m genuinely curious about your “side of the debate.” Is it that you don’t believe fossil fuel combustion releases CO2? Is it that you don’t believe CO2 reflects IR radiation and acts as a greenhouse gas? What are the “reliable sources or proven facts” that you are relying on to conclude that “Man-made climate change is the biggest fraud ever?”

  18. Seriously, Jake-1, you believe this is the proper forum to resolve the issue of man-made climate change? What evidence could I produce to change your mind? Debating on blog threads is a waste of time, unproductive and pointless.

    Simply put, there exists no hard evidence to support the theory that the actions of man are producing significant changes to the climate. The “climate change” industry is little more than a lucrative grift for powerful, connected people to “line their pockets” while at the same time improvising the common man. In other words… “Follow the money”.

  19. @ Mantis, your link shows temperatures in the Antarctic. Global average would be better. Here’s one that shows the surface temp lagging CO2 post industrial revolution.

    drrichard is correct about the relatively stable CO2 over the past 800k years pre industrial revolution. Your chart is missing post industrial revolution CO2 data

  20. James, I’m not asking for an in-depth analysis. Just a brief synopsis of why you believe it’s a hoax. Everyone has a unique perspective – perhaps me/others will learn something new from your unique perspective. You’re certainly entitled to your views and I don’t expect anyone’s minds will change by a blog comment. But you’re taking the trouble to comment here and apparently didn’t think it’s a waste of time, so why not elaborate a bit?

  21. Let me share with you mine – here are the short and simple reasons why I’m inclined to believe in “man-made climate change.” I recall doing a lab in class in college which proved to me that CO2 reflects IR (greenhouse effect). And, higher the concentration, the greater (almost linearly) the heat trapping effect. I’ve read that about a half trillion tonne of fossil fuels have been “burned” in the past two hundred years. I recall doing some calculations to find out how much CO2 that released and it was more than the ppm rise measured over that time. Accounting for absorption in the oceans, the assertion that the ~100+ ppm rise post industrial revolution seemed reasonable. That this would cause “man-made” rise in global temperatures due to the greenhouse effect it causes seems a natural conclusion.

  22. @Mantis:

    “So as I mentioned, if higher CO2 causes higher temps, and higher temps causes higher CO2, ad nauseum, that feedback loop always results in runaway warming, which obviously hasn’t happened in earth’s history.”

    Feedback loops usually include the seeds of their own destruction. In an electronic circuit, something eventually overheats and fries, destroying the circuit. When glaciers melt, the high albedo ice is replaced with low albedo rock which raises the temperature and causes the glaciers to melt quicker — until all the ice is gone and the system stabilizes at a higher temperature. The same with melting polar ice being replaced by low albedo open water.

  23. @James N:

    “How is it possible so many people still haven’t figured out either of them?”

    Maybe because not everyone is delusional?

  24. Alot of things don’t add up. First, its impossible to know for certain if emissions have dropped… that would take perfect knowledge of aircraft load factors and flight displacements from surrounding regions versus what would have happened in today’s travel environment without it…

    On top of this, having been in Europe, I don’t understand why anyone would not take the trains within France if it was at all a reasonable option. IE, the flyers who used to fly from ORLY to a second destination within France are likely those who can’t be bothered to get from ORLY to a train station.

    I suspect that either Air France was holding slots with the “least” expensive flight they could… or that future Business travelers will either avoid ORLY or just take a private car to the end destination within France. The net result will be cheaper slots at ORLY, which if in turn leads to cheaper international flights will likely lead to increased consumption of these flights… which may or may not result in actual reduced emissions.

  25. I can’t decide which is worse – your found-on-the-internet images or your AI-generated images

  26. It’s too bad our woke governments didn’t exist 10,000 years ago to prevent the last Ice Age! The taxes would have me masterfully applied to fighting back the cold and ice 😛

  27. @JOJO – Millions died in the flooding in 2000 in NYC and Miami?
    What end of the world Hollywood disaster movie were you watching?

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