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Trains, planes, ferries, Métro: eight travel updates for France

An extra six months of life for paper Métro ticket carnets, an emergency plane landing in Brest, an additional Dover-Calais ferry and more

We look at the travel stories happening around France this week Pic: Craig Russell / Alexandru Nika / Lukas Wunderlich / CIS / Shutterstock

This week has seen both the UK and French governments ease travel restrictions for people moving between the two countries. 

The UK has removed compulsory pre-departure tests from its rules for vaccinated travellers to the country. 

From Sunday January 9, vaccinated people entering will also be allowed to take a day two lateral flow test instead of PCR after arrival (not, however, confirmed for Northern Ireland, which as of today still refers to PCR tests only). They will also be spared from having to quarantine until they receive the result of their day two test. 

Read more: France and UK ease travel rules as Omicron spreads in both countries

France has also decided to slightly expand its list of essential reasons for travel for people coming from the UK. 

Now, urgent work trips for projects that require a person’s physical presence and cannot be delayed will be counted as pressing grounds for travel. 

Read more: Here are France's two new extra essential reasons for travel from UK

In addition, third country nationals holding a valid French or European residence permit or long-stay visa may return to their principal residence in another EU country by transiting through France. 

We take a look at the other travel stories which have been occurring around France. 

Electronic chip shortage lengthens life of paper Métro tickets 

A global shortage of the electronic chips which are needed to make Navigo cards has forced the postponement of the withdrawal of paper Ile-de-France Métro tickets from sale. 

The Ile-de-France Mobilités public transport provider had planned to stop selling 10-ticket carnets of paper Métro passes from every ticket machine in the Paris region in March, but this has now been delayed until September.

Read more: Ile-de-France starts phasing out paper Paris Métro tickets

“As is the case in the car industry, there is a strain on the electronic chip stock,” Ile-de-France Mobilités told Le Parisien. These chips are used in the creation of rechargeable Navigo passes, which were set to replace paper tickets.

“We are not experiencing Navigo card shortages but we must take anticipatory action to manage our stock,” the transport provider added. 

Ile-de-France Mobilités had decided to withdraw the 10-ticket carnets from circulation to reduce the amount of paper waste produced during Métro journeys, as well as cutting the risk of losing or accidentally demagnetising one’s ticket.  

Single t+ Métro tickets will still be available to buy from machines even when the carnets are withdrawn.

Ryanair flight makes emergency landing in Brest following smoke smell in cabin

A Ryanair flight from Manchester to Faro, Portugal had to make an emergency landing in Brest (Brittany) this week when the cabin began to smell of smoke. 

The plane’s pilots sounded the alarm 40 minutes after taking off from Manchester, and firefighters and security teams were put on standby at Brest ready for the unexpected landing.

Passengers disembarked and were later able to board a London-Faro flight less than three hours after their scheduled arrival time.

One passenger had reportedly spotted flames inside the cabin, but Ryanair explained that the emergency landing was necessitated by a “minor technical problem which caused an unidentified smell of smoke in the cockpit.”

Another flight from Paris to Los Angeles also had to stop in Manchester because of a medical emergency.

Details released on new slower, cheaper Paris-Lyon TGV line 

In December, SNCF was granted approval to launch a low-cost ‘classic’ TGV line between Paris and Lyon in April this year.

This Ouigo service will not exceed speeds of 160km/h – while other TGVs can reach 320km/h – but will also be cheaper. 

Tickets will cost €10-30 – €5 for children – and the journey will last around five and a half hours. Normal Paris-Lyon TGV tickets cost at least €45.

Trains will have capacity for 500-800 passengers and three return journeys between Paris Bercy or Austerlitz and Lyon Perrache will be offered each day. 

The stations of Villeneuve Saint-Georges, Melun, Dijon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon and Lyon Vaise will also be served.

Second Irish Ferries Dover-Calais ship starts sailing 

Irish Ferries has started trips with its second Dover-Calais route ship, the Isle of Innisfree. 

The ferry company is also set to add a third ship to its fleet this month, enabling it to offer 30 sailings per day, with one leaving every 90 minutes. 

Doug Bannister, chief executive at the Port of Dover, said: “The capacity added by Irish Ferries on the route is testament to the ongoing confidence in the Short Straits.

"The market continues to choose the high pace, frequency and capacity offered by Dover, and in turn, the port offers customers more choice, moving from two to three operators in 2021."

Irish Ferries launched its Dover-Calais service in June 2021 with its Isle of Inishmore ship.

No countries left on France’s scarlet list for travel

The last three countries left on France’s scarlet list for travel – South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho – have been moved to red. 

The scarlet list was first created in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant, but now that it is present all over the world continuing to control arrivals from southern Africa would be pointless. 

Serbia has also been moved from the red list to orange. 

France’s red list now includes: Afghanistan, South Africa, Belarus, Botswana, Eswatini, the US, Georgia, Lesotho, Nigeria, Malawi, Mauritius, Moldova, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia, Suriname, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

People arriving in France from scarlet list countries had to quarantine, but those coming from red list countries do not need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, although they do need to carry out a pre-departure test before their journey begins. 

2022 will see new Métro stations opened in Ile-de-France

On January 13 two new stations will be added to the southern end of Paris’s Métro line 4 between Montrouge and Bagneux.

This year, line 12 will also be extended by two kilometres from its current terminus at Front Populaire, with the opening of two new stations: Aimé Césaire and Mairie d’Aubervilliers. 

The Grand Paris Express is also taking shape, with the new line 15 having been completed in December after three and a half years of work. The 37km line will provide a ring around Paris, allowing people to travel between suburbs while bypassing the city centre. 

As a part of the Grand Paris Express project, the line 14 will also be extended to Saint-Denis-Pleyel in the north and Orly airport in the south. 

No French airlines in top 10 list for punctuality 

No French airlines were included among the top 10 most punctual airlines in Europe this year, according to the results of an annual study.

Cirium, a firm which carries out data and analytical studies for the aviation industry, found that Spanish low-cost airline Vueling was the most punctual in Europe, with 92.13% of flights being on time. 

In second place was Iberia Express, followed by Norwegian Air Shuttle, Aeroflot, Iberia and Eurowings.

“Vueling rose to the top as it expanded internationally. The carrier took advantage of slots given up by airlines such as Air France at Paris Orly Airport and opened new routes serving Northern Europe,” the report said.

Air France-KLM will need to find €1-2billion in 2022 

Air France-KLM will need to raise €1-2billion this year to successfully weather the air travel disruption caused by the Covid pandemic, Les Echos reports. 

The newspaper added that the airline company would probably need a further €4-6billion to retain its place as a key player in the industry.

Air France-KLM has already received over €14billion from the French and Dutch governments over the course of the pandemic.

Now, it will need to secure funding from private investors. 

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