Macron Govt Demands Air France Go Green to Get Bailout Cash

In this Sept. 30, 2003 file photo, an Air France jumbo jet rolls behind the tail of a KLM Royal Dutch airliner at Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, north of Paris. KLM said Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 that it will temporarily suspend flights to and from Cairo in January, …
AP/Remy de la Mauviniere

The French government has demanded that its national airline Air France embrace Green ideology and cancel all domestic flights to receive a government bailout.

French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire said the airline, which is struggling like many others due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, would be eligible for a loan of up to €7 billion (£6.1bn/$7.55bn) only if it became the greenest airline in the world.

“It involves the elimination of domestic flights, and quite frankly, when you can make the train journey in less than two and a half hours, taking a plane is not justified. It should not be a transitional measure but a definitive measure,” Mr Le Maire told broadcaster France Inter on Monday.

“We want a low-carbon, state-of-the-art economy. I think we can make this crisis a unique opportunity to redefine what we want for our economy and give ourselves new economic ambition,” he said.

Air France is not the only airline that has requested government loans or bailouts to deal with the ramifications of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Scandinavian airline SAS secured a €300 million (£261mn/$324mn) loan from Sweden and Denmark this week with four banks involved in the deal that was approved by the European Union.

“The guaranteed debt package, which has been approved by the European Commission, was implemented in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and is intended to support the airline’s liquidity and prepare for the recovery of its activities,” SAS said.

Finland has also pledged a maximum of €700 million (£610mn/$755mn) to help its airline Finnair recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. Neither airline, however, has been reported to have been forced to sign up to environmental measures or cancel domestic flights to receive the loans.

The Green agenda has been an essential pillar of the past strategies of President Emmanuel Macron with his government imposing policies like a “green tax” on airline tickets last year.

Macron’s environmental push has also been heavily linked to the rise of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement which has held protests every Saturday in France since November 2018.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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