Leaving the EU without a deal would represent the “worst case scenario” for the aviation and aerospace sector and could lead to flight chaos, the boss of the industry trade group warned yesterday.
Paul Everitt, chief executive of the aerospace trade body ADS Group, said the election result meant the government had failed to secure a mandate for a so-called hard Brexit and its approach now needed a rethink.
“No deal is the worst possible outcome because that is chaos, and if you go and talk to any of our aviation and airline colleagues, they will tell you they know they can take off [but] they’re not necessarily sure they can land if there is no deal, from one day to the next,” he said.
The legal framework for airlines to fly within Europe is underpinned by the Single Market for aviation service provision in Europe and the European Common Aviation Area. These permit any EU airline to operate from, between and within any country of the European economic area. Post Brexit, the UK no longer automatically has the same benefits as a member, meaning the right of its carriers to fly to the EU and beyond will have to be renegotiated.
The airline industry is calling for a transitional arrangement for flight rights if a fleshed out agreement is not finalised within the two-year negotiation period. This could be by something as simple as an exchange of letters between ministers or a memorandum of understanding, but it needs clarity soon because airlines plan flight schedules 12 to 18 months in advance.
“It is important that UK families going on holiday and business people seeking out new trade opportunities can continue to enjoy the benefits we see today of an open aviation market,” said Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airports Operators Association (AOA). “That is why the AOA believes the UK government should prioritise new aviation agreements and put in place clear transitional arrangements pending those new agreements.
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“This will ensure that the legal framework for aviation links with the EU, the US and other countries seamlessly continues once the UK leaves the EU.”
A spokesperson for the department for exiting the EU said: “We are approaching the negotiations with a spirit of goodwill and are confident we can achieve an outcome that works in the interests of both sides.
"Our aviation industry is the largest in Europe, and both we and the EU benefit from the connectivity it provides.”
However, ADS’ Everitt said that while the government appeared to understand the issues his organisation had flagged, it had not yet had “any specific reassurance”.