UK-based airlines will be able to continue flights to EU destinations until at least October 2020 regardless of what happens with Brexit over the next few months.

As the UK government and House of Commons continue to battle over the issue of a “no deal” Brexit, the European Commission has extended legislation to allow UK-EU flights to keep operating until at least 24 October 2020.

This “unilateral contingency” legislation to allow flights to operate had originally been due to end in March 2020 but this has now been extended for a further six months.

The EU’s move was welcomed by UK transport secretary Grant Shapps who revealed that the Department for Transport will also extend UK air traffic rights for all EU airlines until October 2020.

“We welcome these proposals from the European Commission to extend arrangements allowing flights to continue between the UK and EU after Brexit,” added Shapps.

“Connectivity is at the forefront of this government’s vision for a global, outward-facing Britain and these extensions between the UK and EU ensure that it will be business as usual when travelling and trading for the foreseeable future.”

Travel association ABTA, which has been lobbying for an extension, welcomed the moves by the EU and UK government as it provided “confidence that flight schedules will not be affected”.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive, said: “ABTA has been pushing hard for this extension, which is to the mutual benefit of UK customers and the EU, and we are encouraged that the European Commission has responded today by extending the deadline.

“This legislation was originally passed as a contingency measure in the event of a no-deal scenario, an extension until at least October 2020 will give customers much needed confidence in making their travel plans.”

The association said it would keep lobbying the UK government, EU officials and other governments in the run-up to the current Brexit date of 31 October on travel-related issues.

Although flights can continue regardless of the Brexit outcome, business travellers have been warned they could face having to apply for work permits on a country-by-country basis.

abta.com/brexit

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