Ryanair: Post-Brexit UK could lose air links with EU

Great Britain could potentially see a disruption of air ties with European Union members in the post-Brexit world of 2019, unless commercial aviation gets priority status when discussing the particularities of the divorce, according to Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer. On the extreme end of the possible outcomes is the looming danger of losing air connectivity entirely for a few months after March of 2019.

This worrisome forecast comes right after Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May signed the letter that signals the formal notice of the UK leaving the Union, of which it was part since 1973. When the single aviation market was created in the 90s, it established that any EU-based air carrier can fly from one member state to another and even within a member state without any constraints. Consequently, by leaving the EU, Great Britain will need to re-negotiate a deal to maintain the freedom of flying in Europe.

“With the UK set to leave Europe’s Open Skies system, the UK government will either have to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the EU to allow flights to/from Europe to continue, or else revert to historical WTO rules, which do not cover aviation, thereby raising the distinct possibility of no flights between Europe and the UK for a period from March 2019 in the absence of a bilateral deal”, is what Ryanair’s plea to the government sounds like.

Airlines UK representative Tim Alderslade stated that what British hope for the most is the “full access to each other’s markets for airlines, with no restrictions on access between the EU and third countries, including the United states”.

“With the EU project facing unprecedented criticism and existential threats, the aviation sector today wishes to remind people of the EU’s achievements within air transport,” was how nine major European aviation associations – ACI, ASD, A4E, CANSO, EBAA, EHA, ERA, IACA and IndustriAll – representing airports, the aerospace industry, airlines, ANSPs, business aviation, helicopter operators, regional airlines, charter airlines and trade unions had addressed European leaders prior to the signing of Article 50.

“The Single Aviation Market established by the EU during the 1990s removed regulatory and market barriers and created a fully integrated market for aviation,” their statement said. “This has been instrumental in increasing connectivity and productivity, as it provided greater access to markets and lowered prices for air travel and air freight services. We cannot afford to lose the freedom, legal certainty, connectivity and prosperity enabled by the Single Aviation Market…This is why we are calling on [EU] member states to preserve, reform and strengthen the EU”.

Interestingly enough, the declaration was addressed to all European Union, except the UK.

Soon airlines will have to form flight schedules for summer of 2019, when the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU. “The message to London is please give us urgency and give us real options. And don’t give us options in 18 months’ time because we’re planning the summer of 2019 in 365 days.” Ryanair marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said. “If there isn’t a solution that’s known and workable then it becomes a factor for us and every other airline planning their summer 2019 capacity.”

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