Spain will soon ban short-haul flights

It’s all to help curb emissions, but will it actually be that effective?

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
Photograph: iStock-Vueling

When it comes to trying to be a more sustainable tourist, reducing the amount we fly is one of the most effective individual changes travellers can make. But with the convenience and affordability of short-haul flights, sometimes people need a push in the right direction – which is why Spain will soon be following France’s example of banning short-haul flights in an effort to curb the country’s emissions. 

A study released by Ecologistas en Acción revealed that eliminating short flights where there is a train alternative of up to four hours could save 300,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted per year. And by replacing the proposed 11 air routes with trains, it could reduce the country’s domestic aviation emissions by a whopping 10 percent. 

According to euronews, the ban will be going ahead after it was agreed upon by the coalition government. But it isn’t just short-haul flights that Spain is considering restricting. Private jet usage and the use of products such as kerosene as an aviation fuel could also be factored in.

What might be surprising is how critical environmentalists have been of this proposal. The routes that could be impacted by the ban are those between the Spanish capital Madrid and other cities across the country, including AlicanteBarcelonaSeville and Valencia. However, international flights to and from the capital’s airport would not be included. 

Much like the efforts in France, where there were only three short-haul routes that were successfully banned, it’s looking like the impact of these measures might be limited. Ecologistas en Acción described the measures as ‘purely symbolic’.

So, are we a step closer to Europe completely banning short-haul flights? A significant overhaul of rail travel across Europe is likely required before any kind of further restrictions on short-haul flights. But rail travel has gained momentum in Spain, with new high-speed services being developed – so watch this space.

The revival of rail travel in Europe 

Time Out has extensively covered Europe’s train travel renaissance, from the brand-new sleeper trains that have launched this year to new high-speed services.

And it’s not just about convenience: many European countries are implementing measures to make train travel more affordable, with countries such as Germany, Portugal and France launching budget-friendly monthly transport passes. France also proposed a ban on super-cheap flights – so it looks like we’re only getting closer to the era of flight-free travel

Did you see that this Spanish city is planning to ban hotels?

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