Flights could be grounded the day after Brexit, an EU official has claimed – warning that the clock is ticking on a new aviation deal between Britain and the rest of Europe.
The UK plans to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 and it is unclear if the ‘Open Skies’ agreement will stay in place afterwards.
And now Henrik Hololei, director general for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission, has said time is running out on reaching a new deal, which could cause havoc for airlines come March 30, 2019 if no agreement is in place.
Flights could be grounded the day after Brexit, an EU official has claimed warning that the clock is ticking on an aviation deal between Britain and the rest of Europe (file picture)
Speaking at the CAPA Centre for Aviation conference in Dublin, he explained: ‘ The possibility still exists that on day one no flights operate. It hasn’t disappeared.
‘One thing is clear, is that this is a very sad chapter currently being written.’
He added that before any negotiations could be done specifically on aviation, or any other sector, the overall framework of Britain’s departure had to first be agreed.
Airlines have said they need a new bilateral deal between Britain and Europe by September or October to replace the EU´s ‘Open Skies’ regime, which allows EU airlines to fly wherever they wish within the bloc.
They have imposed the deadline saying they need to be able to provide scheduled flights in the months after Britain leaves the EU.
Britain could also be excluded from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) after it quits the EU.
British government ministers have said they expect to remain included in both Open Skies and EASA.
However, airlines are beginning to draw up contingency plans for Brexit, with leading industry body IATA saying that a clear view on the withdrawal is needed by October at the latest.
Ryanair has said it will put ‘Brexit clauses’ into ticket sales that will see countless bookings rendered void if EU aviation regulation post Britain leaving the bloc remains unresolved
And Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier Ryanair has said it will put ‘Brexit clauses’ into ticket sales that will see countless bookings rendered void if EU aviation regulation post Britain leaving the bloc remains unresolved.
But Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways owner IAG, said it was important to remember that the flights question was not only a problem for Britain, but also for the rest of the EU.
Referring to repeated warnings by Ryanair boss that flights could be grounded next March, he said: ‘(Ryanair CEO) Michael O’Leary portrays this as people in the UK won’t be able to fly. But it’s people in Europe that won’t be able to fly.’
Mr Walsh also said he was confident that Britain and the United States would be able to reach a new traffic rights agreements covering flights between the two countries.
Although he added it may be slightly different to the Open Skies deal between the United States and Britain, in light of more protectionist noises coming out of America.