Key Points:

  • Clément Beaune proposes the establishment of a government-regulated minimum airfare and higher aviation taxes across the EU's 27 member countries as part of a broader environmentally conscious agenda.

  • Greenpeace highlights the need for reducing train fares in Europe, emphasizing that they are often two to four times higher than air travel costs.

  • Earlier this year, Beaune instituted a ban on certain short domestic flights in France, encouraging the use of existing high-speed train connections instead.

French Transport Minister Proposes Higher Aviation Taxes to Counter Environmental Challenges

PARIS —Transport minister Clément Beaune is steering France and potentially the EU towards more eco-friendly transportation alternatives. In a recent dialogue with the French news outlet L'Obs, Beaune emphasized the urgency to revise current airfare pricing amid the ongoing "environmental crisis."

Taking a staunch stand against low-cost airfares, Beaune advocates the introduction of a government-enforced "minimum air ticket price" across all EU nations, comprising 27 member countries. He perceives this strategy as a vital step to counter "social and environmental dumping." This approach is coupled with a recommendation for an escalated 'aviation tax,' with private jets bearing a more substantial tax brunt.

Earlier this year, Beaune pioneered a decisive move in France's domestic air travel landscape, instituting a ban on short flights that have alternative train or bus routes available. This legislation affected prevalent routes such as Paris to Bordeaux and Paris to Lyon, urging commuters to opt for high-speed train connections in lieu of flights. He rationalized this initiative, emphasizing the imperative to "decarbonize our lifestyles" and questioning the justification for air travel between cities well-connected by efficient and speedy train services.

However, realizing the potential of fast rail as a sustainable substitute to air travel warrants significant investments in infrastructure and a dedicated strategy to moderate train fares. Greenpeace has brought to light the existing disparity in pricing, noting that traversing Europe by rail is generally two to four times more expensive compared to flying. To foster a genuine transition towards greener alternatives, the organization urges a reconsideration of the current train fare structure.

As the minister spearheads France's transition towards a green future in transport, the spotlight is now on fostering affordable and efficient rail systems, a move seen as critical to ensuring the success of the ambitious environmental agenda laid out.