French members of Parliament (MPs) Christine Arrighi and Julien Bayou recently presented a draft bill in the French Parliament entitled Draft bill for the prohibition of private jet flights. Both MPs belong to Europe Ecologie Les Verts, France’s largest environmentalist party.
The proposal was simple. It sought to amend the French Code of Transport by introducing two new provisions targeting both non-commercial non-scheduled flights and commercial non-scheduled flights (ie, private flights and chartered flights on private jets). The bill contained a new article, L6400-4, prohibiting non-commercial non-scheduled (ie, private) flights within the French territory. It would have been added to the introductory provisions of book IV, Air transport. The prohibition would not apply to state and military aircraft, or to operations involving:
- search and rescue;
- helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS); and
- aerial work.
The poor drafting of the provision created confusion as to whether aircraft operated by private contractors under public service contracts (eg, HEMS) would be permitted.
The second provision (article L6412-3) was introduced in chapter 2 of the first title of book IV (Air transport) of the French Code of Transport. It specifically targeted commercial non-scheduled flights – that is, chartered flights. ‘Chartered flights’ are flights operated for remuneration exclusively by operators that hold an air operator certificate under the Air Services Regulation.(1)
The proposed addition to article L6412-3 prohibited chartered flights of fewer than 60 passengers within the French territory.(2) This clearly targeted business jet flights; chartered flights rarely exceed 10 passengers. Exceptions include aircraft chartered by football teams and other sports clubs or federations (which may not exceed 60 passengers) and large cabin aircraft chartered by airlines for seasonal flights. The environmentalists’ proposal was based on false premises. However, despite the French Parliament rejecting the draft bill on 6 April 2023, there will be further attempts to restrict aviation generally and business aviation in particular in France. In response to the draft bill, the French government has already warned that the French business aviation industry will soon be subject to further targeted taxes. This is thus, regrettably, not the last time that business aviation will be in the spotlight in France.
(1) Regulation 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules for the operation of air services in the EU.
(2) In the proposed bill, article L6412-3 (like article L6400-4) refers to flights ‘from, to or within the French metropolitan territory’, which would seem to include flights to and from a destination outside France. In other words, business jets would be prohibited in the French airspace