France is considering a new law to make air travel more expensive: setting a minimum price for airline tickets. According to the country’s Minister of Transport,
Airline tickets for 10 euros while we are in the midst of an ecological transition are no longer possible; this does not reflect the cost to the planet.
Such a rule would “only affect domestic flights as most European Union countries have a different view from that of France.”
This would mean less competition for Air France, and less competition for buses and trains. It would make air travel more the province of the wealthy.
While done under the guise of the environment, it’s really protectionism for the national carrier whose largest owner is the French government – and it’s a move that is actually bad for the environment.
- Ultra low cost carriers carry more passengers per unit of carbon by cramming people in than legacy carriers that charge higher fares do. Generally low cost carriers operate more fuel efficient fleets than legacy carriers, too.
- Half empty planes emit roughly as much carbon as full ones do. Higher fares mean fewer passengers, and carbon emissions without much benefit while increasing demand for other modes of transport with concomitant increases in their carbon emissions. The net effect here is unclear.
- Meanwhile business and first class passengers take up more space on an aircraft than the same number of economy passengers, so Air France’s premium-heavy approach entails more emissions per person for that reason as well.
Wizz Air argues business class should be banned due to its environmental effects, so both sides can use the environment as a fig leaf for their self-interest just as easily.
- The worst emissions are from aircraft on certain routes and at certain altitudes. Prices for domestic air travel do not effect this.
Self-interest is almost always couched in terms of public interest, but the reason behind public policy is rarely what’s explained by those promoting it. We’re probably barking up the wrong environmental tree focusing on air travel anyway since streaming online porn “generates as much CO2 per year as is emitted by countries such as Belgium, Bangladesh and Nigeria.”