France Targets ‘Budget’ Airlines By Proposing A Minimum Price For Plane Tickets In The EU

Image of an aircraft taking off.

Image of an aircraft taking off. Credit: Ian Schofield/

AS part of the country’s crusade against polluting emissions, France has targeted ‘low-cost’ flights operating in its airspace.

These particular airlines are one of the segments that do the most business in that sector and according to the French government, they are not contributing to the fight against climate change.

In an interview with ‘L’Obs‘ that was published this Thursday, August 31, Clément Beaune, the French Minister of Transport explained that he intends to propose the establishment of a ‘minimum rate’ for plane tickets in the rest of the European Union nations.

He also claimed that some of their current prices do not take into account the impact their flights have in environmental terms.

Flight prices do not reflect ‘caring for the planet’

Beaune justified his initiative with the argument by stating that: ‘Plane tickets at €10 at the time of the ecological transition are no longer possible’, since they do not ‘reflect the price for the planet’.

However, he noted: ‘It is not to punish one mode of transport and finance another. The heart of the battle will be technical progress, innovation and investment, public and private’. The most polluting forms of transport must be decarbonised despite road and plane travel still having a bright future ahead of them, he stressed.

‘I do not believe at all that the plane will disappear, I do not believe at all that the State should withdraw from financing the aeronautical sector, transport, in general, must be financed’, Beaune added.

Beaune was aiming at the ‘budget’ airlines in particular

His statements were aimed directly at the ‘budget’ airlines which offer some tickets at very low prices, especially when used in promotions. However, the reality is that the fares of these companies have also been pushed up by inflation.

During its first fiscal quarter between April and June, Ryanair, the main airline in this European sector, increased the average price of its tickets by 42 per cent, to €49.

When interviewed by the Spanish news outlet at the start of August, Elena Cabrera, the country manager for Spain and Portugal explained: ‘It is already very complicated to offer flights at €9.99 or €10.99 each way’.

Beaune will formalise his proposal ‘in the coming days’

Clément Beaune insisted that he would formalise the proposal to his European counterparts ‘in the coming days’. The minister added that he: ‘fully assumes the imposition of taxes on polluting activities to invest in this ecological transition’.

An increase in a so-called ‘solidarity’ tax is planned for inclusion in the French government’s budget next year that will tax flights departing from France.

This move is expected to generate approximately €300 million annually which the state will subsequently use to fund its green transition in the aeronautical sector.

France published a decree in May

In May, France published a decree prohibiting any internal flights that could be replaced by rail services lasting less than two and a half hours.

This measure has so far only affected one flight originating from Paris Orly Airport because the rest of the domestic routes are connections and are therefore not affected by the decree.

IATA, the International Air Transport Association, questioned this initiative on internal flights at the time. It pointed out that if the action was applied throughout Europe then 24 per cent of flights would be eliminated, but that emissions would only be reduced by 3.8 per cent.

A PwC study for Iberia also added that eliminating internal flights would generate connectivity problems and economic losses. The report estimated that for every one million travellers who take these flights, €102 million of GDP and 1,802 jobs are generated.

Spain planned to imitate France in this action

In the ‘Spain 2050’ plan presented by Pedro Sánchez, the President of the Spanish Government, he also advocated the suppression of these flights in Spain in the future.

However, in line with what was expressed by IATA, the sector reported that it considered this move would again be a more cosmetic measure than an effective one.

Iberia believed that this initiative would discourage investment in electric aircraft, for which this type of journey constituted the ideal test bed.

Furthermore, ALA, the airline employers’ association, suggested that it would have hardly any effect on reducing emissions since it would only allow a 2 per cent cut.

Train travel is gradually taking over in Spain

In Spain, the growth of the high-speed rail network across the country is allowing the gradual and natural transition from plane to train to take place on the routes in which they compete.

According to data from ALA,  in the first quarter of 2019, the total number of passengers who chose the aeroplane to travel in the Barcelona, ​​Alicante, Malaga, Valencia and Sevilla corridors was around four million. In the same period of 2023, this figure has plummeted to 922,050, a drop of around 75 per cent, according to

What do you, our readers think of this plan?

Have you maybe already started using the train as an alternative means of transport for trips inside the country where possible?

Feel free to drop us a comment on this topic.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at