Transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that the UK will reciprocate the European Union’s arrangements for air travel in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Grayling said reaching an agreement with the EU is still the government’s top priority but that “a responsible government must plan for every eventuality”.
In a statement, Grayling commented: “Air travel is vital for both the UK and the EU in connecting people and businesses, facilitating tourism and trade. The UK and EU have a mutual interest in maintaining well-functioning aviation markets.”
The European Commission has proposed a regulation to ensure air connectivity in the event of a no-deal Brexit. A final draft of the proposal has been provisionally agreed by the EU and is expected to be confirmed shortly, according to Grayling.
This regulation is intended to apply after the UK leaves the EU and would entitle UK airlines to continue operating to and from the EU until March 2020.
Grayling has today published a policy statement to set out how the UK will provide permissions for EU airlines to operate to and from the UK. He said the UK will reciprocate on three key principles – providing certainty and reassurance to businesses and consumers, minimising the potential for disruption in any Brexit scenario and maintaining a “level playing field for UK industry, ahead of future negotiations”.
In addition, “to ensure the continuity of regional services and to minimise disruption”, the UK government will allow member state airlines to operate wholly in the UK until the end of the IATA summer season – 27 October 2019 – to ensure continued regional connectivity and allow businesses time to “adjust to new arrangements”. Code sharing on existing services will also be allowed to continue.
The news has been welcomed by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), with CEO Mark Tanzer saying: “Today’s announcement provides further assurance that, whatever the outcome of Brexit, travellers can continue to book holidays and business trips with confidence.
“It’s worth remembering that if the UK and the EU agree a deal, we will be in a transition period and everything will stay the same for travel until the end of 2020 – meaning people can continue to travel to the EU exactly as they do now. While it is encouraging that plans are in place for a no-deal scenario, we encourage politicians to work to avoid a no-deal Brexit.”