Ryanair just warned all flights to the EU could be cancelled if Brexit negotiations go badly

Emma Haslett
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FILES -  A file picture taken on 25 May
Ryanair said the UK must put aviation at the centre of its negotiations with the EU (Source: Getty)

Even by its standards, a warning from Ryanair this morning about the outcome of Brexit, should aviation not be front and centre in the UK's negotiations, is pretty dire.

The airline said this morning that unless the government puts the sector right at the centre of its negotiating strategy, the UK could be left without any flights to and from EU countries.

Ryanair reckons the UK leaving Europe's "Open Skies" system means the government must negotiate a bilateral agreement with the EU to allow flights in and out of Europe. World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which Theresa May has threatened to revert to if she cannot agree a deal with the EU, don't cover aviation.

"[This] raises the distinct possibility of no flights between Europe and the UK for a period from March 2019 in the absence of a bilateral deal."

"With Britain planning to leave the EU and its Open Skies agreement, there is a distinct possibility that there may be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of time after March 2019," said Kenny Jacobs, the airline's chief executive.

"The best we can hope for is a new bilateral agreement between the UK and EU, however, we worry that Britain may not be able to negotiate such a bilateral in time for the release by airlines of summer 2019 schedules in mid-2018."

Documents leaked back in February suggested the government has already put air transport industries at the top of its priority list, along with pharmaceuticals, carmaking and textiles. Lower priority industries include construction, oil and gas and telecoms.

Ryanair has been a vocal campaigner against Brexit, saying it will move its focus away from the UK over the next few years.

In January it announced nine new routes from Stansted airport, adding it will "do the prudent thing... [and] continue a modest growth path in the UK" while expanding elsewhere.

Read more: Live: Theresa May triggers Article 50

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