Airline industry looks for assurances from government over Open Skies agreement in wake of Brexit turbulence

Rebecca Smith
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has been critical of the government's handling of Brexit so far
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has been critical of the government's handling of Brexit so far (Source: Getty)

Around 20 representatives from the aviation industry will sit down with the government tomorrow to air their concerns and discuss opportunities post-Brexit vote.

In a meeting with the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), they will stress the importance of a deal with Brussels, as many jitters remain as to what a post-EU Britain will look like.

Securing an Open Skies agreement remains a priority. International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh recently urged the newly elected Donald Trump to support a new US-UK Open Skies agreement modelled on the existing US-EU one.

The US-EU agreement allows any airline of the EU and any of the US to fly between any point within the EU and the US.

Read more: EasyJet set for low-flying results as sterling slump packs a punch

"At IAG we will press strongly to maintain the full access to international markets and to continue effective regulatory arrangements," he said, speaking in Washington at the International Aviation Club on 9 November. He warned that "anything short of an Open Skies would be a massive retrograde step".

Airlines were some of the first to feel turbulence in the wake of the EU referendum vote as the slump in sterling has proved costly.

Ryanair and easyJet both warned over profits last month, and while the former reported a seven per cent increase in first-half profits on Monday, it has warned that "weaker air fares and Brexit uncertainty will be the dominant features of [the second half of the year]".

Read more: Ryanair boss wants Theresa May to stop "faffing around" in India

Chief executive Michael O'Leary was very supportive of staying within the EU and has since criticised the government for its handling of the situation so far. The Ryanair boss said the government had "no idea" as to how it will deliver Brexit and that Theresa May was "faffing around in India" when Brussels was the place she should be focusing her attention to get trade deals done.

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