Your next Europe trip could have a few more zeros behind it, as France has become the first country to cut domestic flights in an effort to reach the European Union’s carbon reduction targets.
From April this year, the French government is banning flights that can be reached by train in 2.5 hours or less.
France became the first nation to introduce biofuel surcharges, with other airlines looking to follow in their footsteps.
A recent ruling now requires all aircraft refuelling within France to use sustainable aviation fuel, (SAF) which is more expensive than traditional fuel-pumping high airfares for travellers as a result.
SAF is four to eight times more expensive than traditional fuel, which accounts for 30 per cent of an airline’s cost but allows them to cut emissions by 75 per cent.
Air France says they expect the cost of SAF to drop as more European countries adopt and produce it.
How will this affect flight routes?
Last April, France banned short-haul domestic flights between Paris and Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux.
A growing number of European nations are planning to follow France. Similar bans on flights below 2.5 hours are being considered in Spain, Germany and Scandinavian countries.
Germany has doubled the taxes on short-haul flights while Austria has dropped its popular Vienna to Salzburg route.
What is the solution?
While the prices may be a shock to some, climate concerns saw European travellers opting to use trains before the pandemic.
Eurail representative Nienke Geudeker says customer research saw more people were citing environmental reasons for choosing train travel.
“We saw the whole flight shame movement starting in Sweden five years ago, and it trickled out across Europe.”
To help speed up the shift, the European Union has announced plans to double the production of high-speed rails by 2030.
France also unveiled its fourth-generation high-speed trains, which will be in service in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The trains use 20 per cent less energy and reduce carbon emissions by 32 per cent.
Europe’s train network has a history of success. Many travellers enjoy watching the scenery as they travel or enjoy a beer or wine that’s served in a glass, not a cup.
So, when you plan your next trip to Europe, you may want to consider taking the scenic route along the rails rather than in the air.
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