France is about to propose to the EU a minimum flight price policy that ends low-cost airfares. France’s Transport Minister Clément Beaune said the measure is aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
In an interview given to the French newspaper L’Obs, Beaune said he wants to “fight against social and environmental dumping” and that “€10 plane tickets isn’t possible anymore. He added that a mega low-ticket price “doesn’t reflect the price for the planet.”
The announcement of such proposal, on 30 August, wasn’t particularly welcomed by travel expert and founder of Trains for Europe campaign, John Worth, who said that that Beaune is inaccurate in saying you can take a €10 flight. With today’s rates, minimum rates for a single ticket one-way including all taxes usually float around €40 and €50.
Many people tell us that they are shocked that, often, the plane costs less than the train. We need more investments in the railway.Clément Beaune, France’s Transport Minister
John Worth raised another argument, saying that frequent flyers are disproportionally responsible for emissions and that the proposed law would penalize folks looking for a weekend escape.
“Anything that makes airlines pay a fair share of the environmental cost that they create is a good thing”, said Worth.”But we should be dealing with frequent flyers and this does not deal with them. It might reduce nice city weekends for some people but it’s not going to stop or reduce this regular flying elite.”
Research published by the climate campaign group Possible reveals that 2% of people take half of all flights in France, while 15% of Brits take 70% of flights and 8% of the Dutch take 42%.
The attempt to end low fares for planes is in contrast with the high prices of European train tickets, which are are twice as expensive as flights, according to a Greenpeace report from July. Over the 112 most important routes analysed by Greenpeace, only 12 train lines were found to be fast, reliable and cheaper than flights.
Traveling through Europe by train is also cumbersome, as passengers have to book tickets from different operators in various countries in advance.
Worth fears that the French Transport Minister is seeking publicity rather than real change as he criticized the country’s recent ban on some domestic flight routes: “The international publicity of France’s short flight ban was huge. It was useless! But it gave Macron good international publicity, I am scared Beaune is doing the same thing. That the actual implementation will have the same impact.”