France has voted to end the use of short haul air routes that could be replaced by rail.
The decision sees domestic air routes to be suspended in cases where they can be replaced by a direct train service of less than two and a half hours, in a popular series of climate and environment proposals.
The decision could spell the end of domestic services from Paris' Orly airport. International passengers will have to rethink their domestic links when transferring at Charles de Gaulle or Roissy airport.
In the land of the TGV – France's high speed train services – much of the country would fall under the 2.5 hour radius from Paris. It would no longer be possible to travel by air to Bordeaux, or Lyon from the capital.
Mediterranean south, a popular tourist destination, will keep its air links.
The original proposal set up by president Macron's climate commission was to scrap all flights with possible rail links up to four hours. However the this extreme goal was reduced after appeals from Air France KLM, which had been badly affected by the pandemic travel downturn.
In spite of initial resistance, the chief executive of the Dutch/French airline Benjamin Smith said the carrier would respond quickly to the new regulation, reducing domestic network by 40 per cent by 2022.
However the huge variation in terrain and remote areas within France, create some unique 'islands' which will allow them to retain their commercial air links.
This has led many including the Green and La France Insoumise parties to condemn the measure as "toothless" and causing unnecessary "human cost".
"We have chosen two and a half hours because four hours risks isolating landlocked territories including the greater Massif Central, which would be iniquitous," the French transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told MPs.
A study by French consumer association UFC-Que Choisir showed that rail routes were up to 77 times more efficient than air links, on C02 emission per passenger – although there were concerns in the quality of service and potential for rail fares to be inflated without competition from air carriers.
Elsewhere in Europe, countries such as Austria and the Netherlands will be watching France's return to the rails with close interest after proposing similar measures. However, in these countries, both of which are many times smaller than France, the reach of these plans are limited.
The biggest culprit in emissions per passenger is short cross-border flights.
These proposals banning internal short-haul flights fail to tackle cross-border links, which are often far shorter than domestic air routes.
In 2013 Dutch MPs failed to block an air link between Schippol and Zaventem in Belgium, a distance of just 140km, on emissions grounds. This failed as it was found to be affecting European Commission free movement regulations.