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‘Help us’ French publicity pilots ask President Macron

Pilots who fly planes with advertising banners in France may see their profession banned under new climate regulations. They are appealing to the French President for help.

26 August 2020
A place towing a banner advertisement. Pilots who fly advertising aircraft are asking President Macron for help, as they face seeing their profession banned in France. Planes participating in the protest are towing banners, one of which read “Mr Macron, help us.”
By Joanna York

The idea to ban aerial publicity was one of the measures put forward by the Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat, a citizens’ discussion of possible ways to protect the environment in France, which held its final session in June, this year. 

The President pledged to consider nearly all of the 149 measures put forward by the convention, with some exceptions, such as plans to reduce motorway speed limits in France.  

The suggested ban on aerial advertising was supported in the Assemblée Nationale by politician Matthieu Orphelin, representative of Maine-et-Loire (Pays de la Loire), who proposed passing the measure into law at the end of July. 

Although the law has not yet passed, concerned pilots have planned a protest today (August 26) around midday in Hérault (Occitanie).

Pilots protest ban that attacks "small" polluters

The protest is – of course – a flying one. 

Multiple microlight aircraft took off this morning in Valras-Plage heading towards Montpellier. The planes towed banners behind them, one of which read “Mr Macron, help us".

The protest is being led by Roland Vidal, head of the airbase at Sauvian since April. 

He told news source Le Figaro: “We have invested many hundreds of thousands of euros [into the air base]. We live 90% off aerial publicity. It is our first year and it has already been very complicated with Covid. For us, the ban would be a catastrophe.”

Mr Vidal also criticised the ban for attacking small, rather than large, modes of transport. He said: “What’s killing us is that we consume 16 litres [of petrol] per hour, whereas yachts consume 500 litres an hour.”

Serge Marolle, president of light aircraft associations SNAPPAL (Syndicat National des Pilotes et Professionnels de l’Aviation Lérère) also opposes the ban. He told Le Figaro: “In a year [advertising aircraft] do about 10,000 flying hours. In terms of carbon consumption, it’s equivalent to 14 hours of flying time for a large carrier like the Airbus A330.

“Our carbon footprint doesn’t even represent a quarter of a drop in the ocean.”

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French MP calls for ban on digital advert screens

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