Spanish environmentalists call for the abolition of 11 domestic flights

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MADRID – Just take the plane from Madrid to Barcelona. If it is up to the environmental organisation Ecologistas in Acción, domestic flights like this will no longer be possible. They investigated that this not only saves C02 emissions but also time and money.

If a plane trip takes less than four hours and there is an alternative by train, the train journey is ultimately faster, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. This is the conclusion of the environmental organisation Ecologistas en Acción in a recently released report. They conducted extensive research into a “full alternative” for various domestic flight routes.

According to the organisation, the report provides sound support for future regulations to abolish such domestic flights. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also previously expressed this wish and included a similar measure in his long-term strategy “España 2050”.

The “replaceable” routes

The focus of the report is on eleven specific, “replaceable” routes, mainly to and from the capital. This concerns flights between Madrid and Alicante, Barcelona, Málaga, Pamplona, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Valencia, La Coruña, Granada and Logroño; as well as the Barcelona-Valencia route. According to the environmental organisation, these routes represent 51,000 air journeys per year and carry almost six million passengers. The largest number of flights on these routes take place between Madrid and Barcelona (30.94%), with the most passengers (43%).

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Less C02 emissions

The elimination of domestic routes (in favour of the train), according to the report, would lead to a 30 to 40% reduction in C02 emissions from all domestic flights on the Spanish mainland. In addition, the eleven routes generate 408.6 tons of nitrogen and 2.7 tons of suspended particles on an annual basis. Emissions that would be prevented with the adjustment.

Less time from ‘door to door’

According to the report, eliminating these routes not only reduces emissions, but also saves travellers time. The environmental organisation emphasises that the total travel time by train for all routes is shorter than by plane. For example, airports are usually located on the outskirts of the city, which means a longer travel time to and from the airport. In addition, you have to be at an airport before departure before a train station and you still have to wait for luggage at the airport.

Less costs

The environmental organisation also calculated the social costs (such as health costs and damage to the living environment) of replacing the plane with the train. She concludes that the annual savings would amount to €50.6 million.

‘Technically and legally feasible”

“Replacing short flights with train journeys is both technically and legally feasible,” said Pablo Muñoz, aviation coordinator at Ecologistas en Acción. “There are existing rail alternatives and we have seen it before within the EU. Moreover, it is of great importance; Spain is one of the EU countries where domestic flights have increased the most in recent years. This has significant consequences for emissions, and these consequences are completely incompatible with the objectives we have set.”

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