“Eliminating domestic flights amounts to exposing the territories to the risk of relocation, to job cuts”

Tribune. How to reduce the harmful effects of air transport? This was the question put to the members of the citizens’ convention for the climate. The answers were not long in coming: ban and tax. The representatives of the aviation sector are entitled to wonder what we have been able to tell the members of this convention to see treated in this way a sector with more than 320,000 employees, also vital for the economy of the territories, the life of companies and the mobility of citizens.

The Climate and Resilience Bill currently under consideration in Parliament follows the same logic: the only way to reduce air transport emissions is to stop flying. This logic of decrease applied only to France is deadly and disconnected from the realities of globalized air transport. Everything contributes to the use of the plane to develop first and foremost in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In Europe, traffic is more mature, but the plane remains essential.

In France, the abolition of domestic flights is based on the idea that the train can become a substitute for the plane. This is illusory, because the modal shift has already taken place when high-speed lines (LGV) are put into service, mainly from and to Paris, therefore leading to the closure of overhead lines without the need for legislation.

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The growth in domestic flight traffic has mainly occurred on region-region links, where the train is unable to provide a response to the rapid and efficient mobility needs of the French (+ 70.8% between 2009 and 2019). This situation will not change, unless the French territory is crisscrossed with new high-speed lines, which are as inconceivable from an ecological point of view as they are untenable for public finances.

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Mobility regression

Eliminating domestic flights amounts to exposing the territories to a decline in the mobility of the French, to the risk of business relocation, to job cuts. And all this for what? The lines targeted by the legislator represent 0.04% of C0 emissions2 generated by transport.

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In addition, from 2022, emissions from domestic flights will be fully offset and, in a few years, future aircraft, hybrid or electric, will be used primarily on regional routes. So what can be done to reconcile the use of the plane with the need to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint? Before reaching the ultimate goal of the zero carbon airplane, action must be taken quickly to reduce emissions in the short term.

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