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Which EU Country Will Be Next?

by Staff

Spain is proposing a short-haul flight ban for routes where a train journey is possible under 2.5 hours. It’s a similar proposal to the one that France has enshrined in law. As many EU countries try to reach ambitious 2050 climate targets, many are making similar moves to discourage flying and encourage train travel.

Euronews reports that the Spanish government has been considering a similar plane ban to France since 2021. The French ban stems from the pandemic when the government bailed out the national carrier Air France, in return for the cancellation of some short-haul routes to meet the country’s environmental targets. Environmentalists are asking for the ban to go further and the French government has also talked about asking Europe to agree to bring in a minium price for low-cost airline tickets.

As is the case with France, there would be an exception for connections with Spanish hub airports that link with international routes and the original plan had been much more expansive, banning flights where train routes of less than four hours exist.

So Spanish environmental campaigners are unhappy because it doesn’t go far enough—arguing that the ban is ineffective because it doesn’t include Madrid—while protesters argue that it would cause considerable damage to the air transport industry while not achieving any of its aims.

Spain accounts for 9% of Europe’s greenhouse gases and this bill would target flights operated by Iberia, Vueling and Air Europa between Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Seville.

The Spanish plan to ban short-haul flights still needs to go through the amendment stage and then pass the Senate.

There Are Still Many New Airport Openings Across Europe In 2024

In regard to the climate crisis, there are mixed messages for the European travel industry—while governments need to meet increasingly tough climate goals, there is a big demand for new destinations and economic growth. In Italy, the Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport is reopening again after being closed since 2016. It originally opened as a military airport in 1926 and then became a training airfield and while it will reopen with a state-of-the-art, carbon-emission-saving building, it still expects 3.3 million passengers in the next three years.

Likewise, there are many new routes planned in and out of France. Transavia is opening a route between Paris Orly Airport and the Estonian capital Tallinn in April 2024. Spanish carrier Volotea will open a new base in Brittany at Brest airport, running 13 new routes to Athens, Barcelona, Faro and Palermo, Italy, amongst others. In May, Norse Atlantic Airways will start flying between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) six times every week. From June, Nice airport in the south of France will get two new routes with Etihad opening a route to Abu Dhabi and Norwegian opening a route to Aalborg Airport in Norway (during summer).

Is A Ban On Private Jets And Kerosene Next For The EU?

It seems the Spanish government has also been having similar conversations as France in considering a partial ban on private jets and also taxing kerosene, commonly used for aviation. These are also part of Spain’s 2050 climate action plan that aims to reduce carbon emissions.

One of the most influential economists of recent years has come out in support of banning private jets to solve the climate crisis. Thomas Piketty is the author of Capital in the Twenty First Century, and a leading voice on inequality around the world and the reasons behind it. In an interview with The Guardian, Piketty said that climate solutions would need to take into account the inequalities between social classes.

Piketty is advocating the introduction of carbon taxes on goods and services that have unnecessarily high carbon emissions—these would be things like private jets, short-haul flights and very large vehicles. The economist is also suggesting that people are also carbon taxed progressively in developed countries so that people can reduce their carbon emissions in line with what they earn.

Piketty argues that up until now, most of the noise has been on the inequality between developing and developed countries in terms of who emits the most emissions and who should pay, but in reality there is huge inequality within developed countries that needs to be addressed to move forward.

It remains to be seen if this might encourage the French government to move further towards an environmental policy that includes some sort of wealth taxing, notably because many of the private jets that operate within Europe do so to travel to the Mediterranean and the south of France. Le Monde reported that in 2022, the most frequent private jet trip was between Paris and Nice, consuming four times more carbon per person than a commercial flight and 800 times more than the train. the French government has started talking about increased taxation on private jets.

Which Other EU Countries Might Ban More Short-Haul Flights?

Other European countries are also taking measures to reduce the number of flights. Germany increased its taxes on domestic and intra-European flights by 75% in 2020 and Belgium introduced a €10 tax on short-haul flights that less than 500km from Brussels Airport. In 2025, Denmark will charge every plane traveler 100 Danish marks (about $15) as part of a green tax to finance more sustainable airline practices.

In 2026, the EU will stop providing free permits to airlines that use them to offset carbon emissions—now the airlines will need to pay for them themselves, a cost that will likely pass onto the consumer.

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