France Takes Aim at Low-Cost Carriers With Ban on Short Routes

France plans to ban commercial air travel on the country’s shortest domestic routes in a bid to prevent low-cost carriers picking up links Air France is being forced to abandon as part of the terms of a bailout package.

“If we are asking things of Air France, it’s not so that low-cost companies can come along and start their own service,” French Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said Monday on RMC radio.Ryanair Holdings Plc andEasyJet Plc already operate services in France.

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The minister’s comments highlight the potential ripple effects of environmental strings attached to the bailout ofAir France-KLM, which could reshape domestic air travel. The policies would put France in the same camp as Austria, which has also placed constraints on short-haul air travel as part of a state-funding plan for the local unit ofDeutsche Lufthansa AG.

Read more:
  • Austria Adds Eco Strings to Rescue of Lufthansa’s Austrian Unit
  • Airline Bailouts Point to Greener Travel — and Higher Fares
  • Lufthansa Braces for Portentous Week With Future on the Line

“We have asked Air France to accelerate its environmental transition,” Borne said, adding that this includes a “drastic reduction” in the number of flights where there is an alternative rail link of less than 2 1/2 hours.

Air France-KLM received 7 billion euros ($7.9 billion) in loans and guarantees from the French government in exchange for agreeing to curb domestic flights by 40%. While this would include pulling some short-haul flights that operate through Orly airport, the company is expected to be able to keep services through its Paris-Charles de Gaulle hub that feed into long-haul destinations.

Citing figures from the Climate Action Network, Greenpeace France has said the measures aren’t ambitious enough because they would cut carbon emissions by just 6.6%.

Borne said she favors following Austria, which has proposed imposing rules on plane-ticket prices, calling 1-euro and even 15-euro tickets “shocking” and saying she backs “in principle” minimum prices.

Austria will impose an additional ticket fee of 30 euros for short-haul flights below 350 kilometers and has said prices can’t be below taxes and fees, with a minimum price of about 40 euros.

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