You are currently viewing Your domestic flight in Spain could soon be banned if this government law passes

If you’re planning to travel to Spain in the future, you should be aware that the country is considering banning some short-distance flights as part of its plan to reduce carbon emissions, just as France has done. Indeed, domestic flights may be banned, with a few exceptions, if an alternative train journey takes less than 2.5 hours.

Here are the details of Spain’s proposed ban on short-distance flights.


Overview of the proposed ban on short-distance flights

Here are the essentials: 

  • Spain intends to ban certain domestic short-distance flights in the near future
  • The ban must undergo several amendments before being approved by the Senate
  • If the law is approved, flights with a rail alternative of less than 150 minutes will be banned 
  • There will be exceptions for flights that are part of international itineraries with a connection
  • We don’t yet know how many flights will be canceled in Spain in response to this law
  • Since May 2023, the French government has banned domestic flights when there are train journeys that can be made in less than 2.5 hours 


How the ban on short-distance flights in Spain would work

Flights between the capital Madrid and 5 cities would be concerned at this stage: Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Málaga, and Seville. Because those train journeys take less than 2.5 hours.

The routes would be maintained for passengers arriving from abroad via Madrid who want to reach their final destination in the country without changing modes of transport. But since those flights will no longer be bookable alone, the flight frequencies could be diminished (or the routes could even be canceled).

To be clear, buying a Madrid-Barcelona flight alone would be forbidden. But buying a London-Madrid-Barcelona flight that uses the same Madrid-Barcelona route would be allowed, because it’s an international itinerary.

barcelona spain
Barcelona, Spain (photo credit: Logan Armstrong)


Criticisms of Spain’s ban on short-distance flights

This plan may well never be implemented. In fact, without the support of small parties in the regions, the alliance between the political parties PSOE and Sumar, who proposed this project, is not sufficient to obtain a majority and thus ensure that the ban is approved.  

The opposition parties, PP and Vox, are against the project. In their view, the initiative would be ineffective, reducing emissions by only 0.06% according to the College of Aeronautical Engineers (COIAE), and would make Spain less competitive.

The project is also criticized due to the often high cost of train tickets in Spain. The country has the largest high-speed network in Europe, with 4,000 km of tracks. 

However, flying remains generally cheaper than trains, thanks in particular to ultra low-cost airlines that are very popular in Europe.

For example, there are $17 flights between Seville and Santiago de Compostela

SVQ-SCQ flights kiwi spain
SVQ-SCQ flights at $17 (image credit: Kiwi)


This is extremely common in Europe, which is why it’s important to know the self-transfer tip so that you don’t pay too much for your airplane tickets just to have them on the same ticket. To give a different example from those of Flytrippers co-founders who have been sharing some for years, our editor Françoise once found a Milan-Berlin flight for C$15.

Anyway, with less airline competition, train prices could rise even further due to basic supply and demand.

Finally, reducing the number of domestic routes would increase the price of flights to all the smaller airports, and negatively affect tourism to these places. Because even without being banned, airplane tickets to other Spanish cities with connections in Madrid would necessarily become more expensive, due to the reduced quantity of flight frequencies.

Spain is the second most visited country in the world, so tourism plays a very important role economically.

Marbella Spain
Marbella, Spain (photo credit: Victor Grabarczyk)


Why there is a plan to ban short-distance flights in Spain

Since 2021, Spain has been considering such a ban as part of its climate action plan for 2050. This initiative is part of an agreement made in Congress by the Spanish coalition government. 

The PSOE and Sumar parties have approved an analysis assessing the potential impact of restrictions on private jets, as well as the possible repercussions of implementing a European Union directive on kerosene taxation.

Environmentalists estimate that 11 of Madrid’s air routes can be replaced by train journeys, which would reduce Spain’s CO2 emissions by around 10%.

However, of the 11 routes covered by the agreement, only the 5 mentioned above fully meet the criteria.


Ban on short-distance flights in France 

While such a pro-train measure was implemented in the neighboring country in spring 2023, this motion affected very few flights.

For many, the intention is laudable, but in reality, many see that this decree may not actually achieve its objective. 

In the end, only 3 routes in France have been eliminated, between Paris–Orly (ORL) and Nantes, Bordeaux, and Lyon. But these 3 destinations are still served from the other airport, Paris–Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG), so it hasn’t even eliminated routes between these cities.

This elimination corresponds to 0.02% of air transport emissions in France.

The government is considering the possibility of banning other routes in the event of rail network improvements, including airplane journeys between Lyon or Rennes and Paris–Charles-de-Gaulle airport, as well as the Lyon-Marseille route. 

Trains generate a much smaller carbon footprint per passenger than airplanes. 

But for journeys that can be 5 or even 10 times shorter than by train, airplanes are often less expensive. So it’s hard to choose the train over the airplane when you can save time and a hundred dollars. 

To encourage its employees to choose this more eco-friendly option, one French company has even offered extra days off! 

It remains to be seen whether other European countries will try to implement similar initiatives and whether they will spread to a wider scale, including longer airplane distances. 



Spain wants to implement a law banning domestic flights when a train alternative of under 2.5 hours exists, in order to reduce carbon emissions. For the moment, the possible ban would affect only 5 air routes. France has already implemented this kind of initiative, eliminating only 3 routes in total within the country.


Learning how to travel for less

Join over 100,000 savvy Canadian travelers who already receive Flytrippers’ free newsletter so we can help you travel for less!

Sign up for our free newsletter


What would you like to know about Spain’s ban on short flights for 2024? Tell us in the comments below.


See the flight deals we spot: Cheap flights

Discover free travel with rewards: Travel rewards

Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips


Featured image: Málaga, Spain (photo credit: Tabea Schimpf)

Share this post to help us help more people travel more for less:

Leave a Reply