In an agreement to form a new progressive coalition government signed by PSOE and Sumar, both parties have taken a significant step towards reducing domestic flights on routes that have rail alternatives of less than two and a half hours, with the exception of those that connect with international routes.

As detailed in the document, the idea is – “as other countries around us have done” – to promote “the reduction of domestic flights on those routes in which there is a rail alternative with a duration of less than 2 and a half hours.” It also includes the desire to expand “financing” and accelerate “the execution of the Mediterranean Corridor, giving special impetus to the Bobadilla-Algeciras connection due to its strategic component also for the Atlantic Corridor, and the Sagunto-Zaragoza-Bilbao Corridor, as axes priority railways for the Valencian railway connection”.

The leader of Sumar, Yolanda Díaz, assured during the presentation of the agreement that “the train is called to be the transportation of the 21st century.” Thus, she believes that “short flights must end” as long as “there is an alternative by train.”

The focus of this initiative is on common routes such as between Alicante and Barcelona, ​​Malaga and Seville, Valencia and Madrid… all of them with high-speed train alternatives that take around two and a half hours. However, it is important to note that none of these rail routes connect directly with Barajas airport, which serves as the main hub for international flights. Despite this, a project is in development that plans to bring high speed to the airport in the coming years.

This approach is not new in Europe, where countries like France have already banned flights of less than 400 kilometers or with rail alternatives of two and a half hours. This has had a direct impact on flights between cities such as Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon and Paris-Orly, promoting the use of the train as a greener and more efficient alternative.

The airline sector has shown its reluctance to the measure. Javier Gándara, president of the Association of Airlines (ALA), has pointed out that, since the liberalization of the railway market, there has been a transfer of passengers from plane to train, which is “considered reasonable”, but he has appealed, precisely, to that possibility of choice. “The client’s freedom of choice is trusted to determine the evolution of this model change,” he says. However, ALA insists that the train should be a complementary means of transport, not the only one, and that its popularity will grow among those whose final destination are cities served by rail connections.

In any case, it is estimated that around 10% of passengers on routes between Madrid and five other large Spanish cities are connecting passengers. For them, using the train could slow down their travel process due to additional checks and baggage check-in, which poses challenges to the elimination of short flights, as reported by Europa Press.

Fernando Candela, president and CEO of Iberia, explained in his speech at Global Mobility Call that to eliminate short-haul flights it is essential that travelers who live outside Madrid have easy access to Barajas airport. Otherwise, “these passengers will choose to travel through Paris, London or Frankfurt, to the detriment of Madrid.”

Candela has called for a “real and efficient intermodality”, with the high-speed train arriving at Terminal 4 of Barajas airport.