Irish airline, Ryanair warns the government that if flights are not a top priority in Brexit negotiations, the UK could be stranded with no flights to or from Europe.
As of today, March 29th, the UK is now on the road to leaving Europe. The Prime Minister has triggered the now infamous Article 50, beginning a two-year process that will sever ties between the UK and the EU (European Union). One such tie that seems to have been left out of conversations so far is the “Open Skies” agreement which, in simple terms, allows airlines to easily operate across the EU.
Just ahead of the government announcement, Ryanair released a statement warning the government that if aviation isn’t a top priority in Brexit negotiations, there could be a period in 2019, following the two-year Brexit divorce period, where no flights are able to operate between the UK and Europe.
The Impact on Events
Although this sounds a lot like scaremongering for the sake of generating PR, there’s a hint of “actually, this could happen”. Although it seems incredibly unlikely that an oversight such as this would happen, it could do. The effect this will have on events in the UK and Europe would be massive. It makes both the UK and Europe as a whole a lot less attractive as destinations for events in the summer of 2019. All is not lost, however. There’s still the Channel Tunnel (Eurostar) and a whole host of adequate (albeit slow) ferry services operating between the UK and the European mainland.
The full statement from Ryanair CMO, Kenny Jacobs reads:
“Some 9 months on from the Brexit referendum, we are no closer to knowing what effect it will have on aviation. It’s become worrying that the UK Government seems to have no plan B to maintain Britain’s liberalised air links with Europe, in the absence of remaining in the “Open Skies” regime.
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. 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.
Ryanair, like all airlines, plans its flights 12 months in advance, so there are just 12 months to go until we finalise our summer 2019 schedule, which could see deep cuts to our flights both to, from and within the UK from March 2019 onwards. The UK Government must respond to the airlines and our customers, and put aviation at the top of its agenda when it negotiates its Brexit deal with Brussels. Britain’s airlines, airports and holidaymakers need a real and early solution for aviation, or risk Britain being cut off from Europe in March 2019.”
However unlikely, the prospect of a period with no flights between the UK and the continent could be a devastating blow for events and business in general. We will be watching this story as it develops.