Air France told to halve CO2 output for €7bn state bailout

Airline must shed domestic routes well-served by trains

epa08435463 (FILE) - An Air France Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft, arrives after the first commercial flight from Paris to Washington, at Washington Dulles International Airport, in Sterling, Virginia, USA, 06 June 2011 (reissued 21 May 2020). According to media reports, Air France is to immediately phase out their A380 fleet. The move was initiallay slated for 2022, but was introduced earlier due to declining passenger numbers amid the COVID-19 crisis.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS *** Local Caption *** 02769414
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Air France must cut short-haul flights as it meets a new target of halving its carbon dioxide emissions by 2024 to qualify for a €7 billion (Dh28bn) bailout, the French government has told the country’s flag carrier.

The company would have to “drastically” reduce domestic air traffic in exchange for state loan guarantees, the French Environment Minister, Elisabeth Borne, said.

Ben Smith, the chief executive of Air France-KLM, said the airline and its local subsidiaries "lost €200 million on the domestic network" last year, Le Parisien reported.

The airline posted a net loss of €1.8bn in the first quarter of the year.

In an effort to stem its losses Air France would cut flights to destinations served by rail in 2.5 hours, such as from Paris Orly to Bordeaux and Montpellier. The airline could keep service to Nice, Marseille and Toulouse.

Transavia, the Dutch low-cost airline and subsidiary of Air-France KLM, could be used to plug the gap.

Like other airlines, Air France grounded almost its entire fleet amid the coronavirus outbreak as governments imposed stay-at-home orders and demand for travel evaporated.

It is currently operating between 3 and 5 percent of its usual schedule and serving 43 destinations for essential passenger traffic as well as cargo.

Air France has listed more than 90 destinations that it hopes to serve by the end of June including over 40 in Europe.

This would be around 15 percent of its normal schedule, and use 75 of its fleet of 224 aircraft.

The airline has also announced the "definitive end" of operations of the world's biggest commercial aircraft, the A380, which is described as the most polluting plane.

It was part of a “group fleet simplification strategy of making the fleet more competitive, by continuing its transformation with more modern, high-performance aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint,” the airline said. The move is expected to cost €500m.