The European Commission has issued a notice to flight operators warning that UK carriers could be prevented from flying in EU airspace in March 2019 if no Brexit deal is reached.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) released the notice from the commission’s directorate-general for mobility and transport, which states that when the UK exits the union it will be considered a “third country” unless an alternative deal is made in Brexit negotiations. If that happens, carriers with their “principal place of business” in the UK will no longer be entitled to the benefits of an EU operating licence.

Likewise, the commission warns that EU carriers would not be entitled to the benefits of UK airspace, essentially shutting the country off from mainland Europe if the government cannot negotiate a deal with the union.

In the letter, the commission states: “Air carrier of the United Kingdom will no longer enjoy traffic rights under any air transport agreement to which the union is a party, be it to or from the territory of the United Kingdom, be it to or from the territory of any of the EU member states.”

BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton commented: “Here it is in black and white from the EU Commission – UK flights to the EU will be grounded in March 2019 should no agreement be reached. We need the UK government to sort air traffic rights now. Once again, no deal is not an option.”

The news comes after the government confirmed it would be moving on to the next stage of Brexit negotiations, with ABTA urging for greater action to secure a viable solution for aviation issues. 

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