Air France must cut emissions and domestic flights for aid: Minister

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PARIS (Reuters) – Air France will have to cut carbon emissions and domestic flights as conditions for government financial support, the French finance minister announced on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire listens to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe delivering a speech to present the French government’s plan to cancel the locking of the country’s coronavirus imposed to slow the rate of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the National Assembly in Paris France, April 28, 2020. David Niviere / Pool via REUTERS

The air transport sector being among the most affected by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, the government offered the airline on Friday a package of 7 billion euros ($ 7.6 billion) consisting of bank loans guaranteed by state and loans directly from the state.

Support has been extended provided the airline makes a path to profitability and aims to become the most environmentally friendly carrier in the world.

Specifying these conditions, the Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire, told the Economic Committee of the Lower House of Parliament that the airline should reduce its carbon emissions by half by passenger and by kilometer by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

For flights specifically in mainland France, emissions are expected to be cut in half by 2024, which, Le Maire said, meant that domestic flights would be “significantly reduced” to focus on serving hubs for transfers.

In another condition, 2% of the fuel used by its aircraft should come from alternative and sustainable sources by 2025.

“Finally, investments will have to be made in the coming years to renew the fleet of long and medium-haul aircraft to fight emissions more effectively,” said Le Maire.

Earlier, Le Maire had told LCI television that the carrier should be a “good customer for Airbus”, adding that the government could also support the European planner “massively if necessary”.

Airbus said on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic had triggered the “most serious crisis the aerospace industry has ever known”, as it highlighted plans to save money after spending 8 billion euros on first trimester.

The Mayor has told lawmakers that support for Airbus could take the form of expanded export financing assistance and state-subsidized leave, as well as airline fleet renewals, starting with Air France.

At the same time, the government plans to create a sector fund to support the aerospace supply chain, which could include the participation of banks, he added.

($ 1 = 0.9216 euros)

Leigh Thomas report; Editing by Alex Richardson

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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