France Wants To Ban Cheap Airline Tickets To Help Environment

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Many countries have set specific climate goals, and achieving those goals requires taking concrete steps to reduce emissions. Along those lines, France’s Minister of Transport has made a proposal that’s raising some eyebrows…

France proposes minimum airline ticket prices

France’s Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, has outlined plans to essentially eliminate ultra-cheap airline tickets within France. Beaune has proposed “the establishment of a minimum air ticket price” in order to “fight against social and environmental dumping.”

He plans to submit this proposal in the days to come. As he describes it, “plane tickets at €10, at a time of ecological transition, this is no longer possible,” and that “this does not reflect the price for the planet.”

This would initially only apply to domestic flights, given that this would be much more complicated to implement on international flights, given varying international laws. Keep in mind that France already recently banned many short haul domestic flights, which can be covered by train in up to 2hr30min.

It’s not entirely clear yet in what form this legislation would come. Would the country simply set a minimum ticket price, and airlines can pocket higher margins? Would the higher ticket cost come in the form of a ticket tax? If so, what would that tax revenue be used for?

This change is targeting ultra low cost carriers

My take on this proposed legislation in France

I can appreciate the challenge that governments face with trying to achieve their goals of reducing carbon emissions. However, it seems like a lot of governments are going about this wrong, and aren’t focusing on the big picture.

To start, let’s just briefly discuss the arguments that airline executives tend to make. For example, the CEO of ultra low cost carrier Wizz Air argues that business class should be banned, because it’s bad for the environment. Meanwhile the CEO of Lufthansa argues that it’s irresponsible to sell €10 flights in terms of the environmental impact. How convenient that they have these perspectives!

If you ask me, governments wanting to reduce emissions from air travel should:

  • Ban or heavily restrict private jets, since the emissions there are disproportionately large
  • Incentivize airlines to operate modern jets with good fuel efficiency, and to operate flights that are full, so that the per-passenger emissions are as low as possible
  • If there are going to be additional taxes on flying, they should directly and transparently be invested in efficient climate offset schemes, rather than just being used to pad the government’s bottom line

So along those lines, I find France’s proposal to be kind of silly. The country would essentially penalize those passengers flying most efficiently, while giving a lot of pricing power to airlines like Air France. Also, the impact of this would be truly negligible, as it would only apply to domestic flights within France. There already aren’t many of those, given the previous ban that France has put into place, which doesn’t even seem to be accomplishing what was intended (given the need for even further government restrictions).

This proposal would probably be good for Air France

Bottom line

France’s Minister of Transport is proposing a new minimum ticket price for domestic flights, as he argues that €10 fares are “no longer possible,” and “this does not reflect the price for the planet.” While I can appreciate the need to reduce emissions in line with France’s stated goals, this doesn’t seem like a well thought out way to go about it, in my opinion.

What do you make of France’s minimum ticket price proposal?



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