The government has been warned that a “poorly-planned” Brexit strategy could damage UK aviation.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said now the election is over, Prime Minister Theresa May must turn her attention to decisions such as airport expansion and drone policy.
“By the very nature of travel, flights can go on sale more than one year before travel, leaving a narrow window before we officially leave the EU,” Balpa said in a statement. “If passengers aren’t sure what restrictions will be in place when they travel it could dent consumer confidence and prevent people making bookings.”
“How airlines continue to connect passengers with EU countries without them needing to shift operations outside of the UK has not yet been made clear.”
Balpa has warned that ff the uncertainty continues British airlines might seek to set up bases within the EU and therefore the UK market could lose significant value. Virgin Atlantic has already revealed a significant loss in profits due to the falling pound as a result of Brexit uncertainty.
Pilots also want reassurance that the government is taking the issue of drones seriously and are taking steps to put in place legislation to prevent a serious collision.
BALPA general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “Now the political wrangling is over it’s time to knuckle down and make some decisions. Airlines are at the coalface of changes to EU trade and movement so aviation should be at the top of the Government’s agenda.
“If swift decisions are not made about Brexit and airport expansion, we could see a serious knock-on effect as airlines, and in turn, consumers lose confidence in the UK market. We could see domestic passengers uncertain about booking and connecting passengers choosing to fly to other European hubs instead.”
He added that Balpa was ready to continue its dialogue with transport minister Chris Grayling around these issues.
“The aviation industry is worth £52 billion to the UK economy and the government must do all it can now to ensure jobs and flight safety are not put at risk.”