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Air France bailout tied to green conditions

written by Sandy Milne | May 1, 2020
Air France
Air France A380 in-flight (Source: Australian Aviation archives)

The French government has tacked a number of environmental requirements to a multibillion-euro rescue package offered to the national carrier.

Last week, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the French Parliament that support for the airline would not come in the form of a “blank cheque”. Moreover, funding will be contingent on Air France’s willingness to sign off a number of ambitious green goals.

Should the airline agree to the government’s criteria, it must work to become the “world’s most environmentally-friendly airline”.

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On Wednesday, Minister Le Maire provided further detail on the conditions to a lower house economics committee. The Macron government has asked Air France to:

  • Halve overall carbon-dioxide emissions per passenger-kilometre by 2030;
  • Halve domestic emissions by the end of 2024;
  • Source 2 per cent of its fuel from sustainable sources by 2025. This comes after the airline announced in December that it would begin working with Shell and World Energy to introduce a blend of convention and sustainable fuel on flights out of San Francisco – starting 1 June;
  • Cut domestic flights from its network, where a “rail alternative … with a duration of less than 2.5 hours” exists.

The proposals form a part of €10 billion offered to the ailing Air France-KLM Group.

On top of a direct shareholder’s loan of €3 billion, the group looks to source €4 billion from the French government and roughly €3 billion from the Netherlands. The Dutch government is reportedly also assessing potential environmental requirements for its share.

The news came just one week after members of the European Parliament’s transport committee called for similar state aid qualifications in an open letter.

“If taxpayers are to bail out airlines, there must be a quid pro quo – this industry must help secure our future in the face of an unfolding climate emergency,” the piece stated

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“We see the automotive industry asking us to help them, by helping households to afford a new car,” said European Commission Vice President Frans Timmerman.

“But why don’t we do this with ecological scrappage schemes, replacing an old and dirty car with a cleaner, even zero-emission one?”

The Air France deal has so far received a mixed response from environmental lobbyists.

“France’s green requests are a first but we had non-binding commitments for years and airline pollution ballooned,” said Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment.

“Marginally more efficient planes won’t put a dent in emissions if airlines still burn fossil fuels that they buy tax-free. Governments should require the industry to take up greener fuels and pay taxes like the rest of us.”

Air France bailout tied to green conditions Comment

  • Bernard

    says:

    Seems fair request, as long as rail alternative is not a 3 or 4 hour journey with or without connections.

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