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Spain’s plan to ban domestic flights where you can take a train in under two and half hours

Iberia jets are seen in a parking zone as a passenger carries her luggage.
Iberia jets are seen in a parking zone as a passenger carries her luggage. Copyright AP Photo/Andres Kudacki
Copyright AP Photo/Andres Kudacki
By Euronews Green
Published on Updated
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It isn’t yet known how many flights will actually be impacted by restrictions.


Spain is banning some short-haul domestic flights as part of its plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Flights with a rail alternative that takes less than two and a half hours will no longer be allowed, “except in cases of connection with hub airports that link with international routes”.

The restriction is part of an agreement made in Congress by Spain’s coalition government. The country has been considering a ban since 2021 as part of its 2050 climate action plan.

It comes after the French government officially banned domestic flights for journeys that can be made in less than two and a half hours by train in May 2023.

The text agreed by the two political parties - PSOE and Sumar - also seeks to analyse the potential impact of restricting private jet use and a European Union directive on taxing energy products, including kerosene which is used as an aviation fuel.

What impact will the short-haul flight ban have?

Initially, Sumar leader Yolanda Díaz’s draft proposal included getting rid of short-haul flights with rail alternatives of less than four hours but this has now been reduced to two and a half hours.

The initial draft proposal would have saved up to 300,000 tonnes of CO2 and 50,000 flights per year, according to a study released last year by Ecologistas en Acción. The coalition of environmental groups said that 11 air routes could be replaced by train journeys under four hours, slashing Spain’s CO2 emissions by nearly 10 per cent.

The report mainly looked at flights to and from Madrid - many of which are unlikely to be included in the current ban as it is an international airport. 

As was the case with measures introduced in France, the number of flights actually impacted by the measures could be minimal.

Short-haul flight ban criticised as ‘ineffective’

Opposition parties PP and Vox are against a ban with the latter saying it would make Spain “less competitive”.

PP member Guillermo Mariscal explained that he believes the initiative is “ineffective” because it would only result in a 0.06 per cent reduction in emissions according to data from the College of Aircraft Engineers (COIAE).

Last year COIAE shared a statement expressing its disagreement with a plan to cut flights of under three hours, claiming it would have almost zero impact on carbon emissions. It said that “in the face of such reduced benefits, the damage that would be caused to the air transport industry in Spain will be considerable”.

It isn’t yet clear when measures will be introduced or which routes will be affected. The ban will need to go through several more stages of amendments before it can be approved by the Senate and finally become law.

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