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Spain Proposes Ban on Short-Haul Domestic Flights


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The Spanish government has proposed a ban on some short-haul domestic flights where there is an alternative train journey of less than two and a half hours.

The move is part of the Spanish government’s 2050 climate action plan to reduce carbon emissions and follows a similar ban implemented in France last year, which currently applies to three routes from Paris Orly airport to Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux.

Connecting flights in Spain with links to international routes will not be affected by the proposed ban, so international air hubs such as Madrid and Barcelona are unlikely to see any schedule or slot changes.

The proposal, which also considers the impact of restricting private jet use, will undergo further review before it is enacted into law and, according to industry reports, details remain unclear as to when the measures would be introduced or which domestic connections will be affected.

A recent Hitachi Rail survey into attitudes towards public transport in 12 global markets (including six in Europe: London, Berlin, Milan, Warsaw, Paris and Copenhagen) found a least two-thirds of respondents would make the switch from planes to trains if faster and cheaper options were offered.

Moreover, the majority, 64 percent, were also in favor of banning short-haul flights between cities where a high-speed rail link is available. Among survey respondents in Paris and Milan this figure increased to 75 percent and 69 percent, respectively.

However, views were split over the idea of increasing air taxes to fund improved rail travel. While around half (56 percent) were in favor, one in three survey respondents opposed the idea.

Climate advocates and travel industry professionals have also criticized the limited impact of short-haul flight bans in instances where airport slots have been reallocated to longer, more carbon-intensive flights.

Robert Boyle, an independent airline consultant and former director of strategy at IAG, claimed that slots at Paris Orly previously used for domestic short-haul flights have since been reallocated to other routes. “The cancellations are very short range and will have been replaced by longer-distance flights with higher emissions,” he said in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

In the case of the Spanish decision, the European Regions Airlines Association also raised flags over the risk that suspended domestic routes could be replaced by longer, more polluting flights, in addition to the emissions due to increased road or rail travel.

Originally published by BTN Europe.

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