Wednesday 2 December 2020 3:13 pm

Bentley has hired cargo jets to fly car parts to UK to avoid Brexit border logjams

Luxury car maker Bentley has hired five cargo jets to fly car parts back to the UK in case of disruption to cross-border customs flows when the Brexit transition period ends.

Chief executive Adrian Hallmark said the aircraft were one of a number of precautions the firm had take ahead of 1 January.

Read more: Gove ‘doesn’t know’ how many customs agents UK has ready for Brexit, says lorry group

“We have spent two years planning. We have five Antonovs that we have on reserve to fly bodies to Manchester”, he told the FT’s Future of the Car summit today.

He added that Bentley, which imports 90 per cent of its car parts from the EU, had massively increased its store of spare parts.

“We used to run just-in-time with two days stock. Now we have 14 days stock. That’s 14 working days, so that’s three weeks of stock”, he said.

The Crewe-headquartered firm has also booked extra warehouses and worked out new supply routes in the event of bottlenecks on traditional routes.

Hallmark’s revelations reveal the depth of the anxieties being felt by car makers and other industries which rely on the uninterrupted passage of goods ahead of the UK’s full departure from the EU.

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With less than a month to go before the transition period lapses, UK and EU negotiators are still divided on areas such as fishing rights and governance.

UK ministers have warned that there is no guarantee that a deal will be done, an outcome that the car industry has long said would be devastating for the industry.

Without a free trade deal, car makers would face a stringent tariff and quota regime that could cost in £55bn over the next five years.

But Hallmark added that he was more worried about the logistics issues than the threat of tariffs.

Read more: Brexit: UK business groups ‘crying out for certainty’ as talks drag on

“It is not existential as long as everything flows. Stopping flows is far more dangerous than Brexit tariffs”, he said.