The man who represents the world’s leading airlines has warned of “the huge amount of work” required to maintain vital air links in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), was responding to the government’s technical notices on the implications of the UK leaving the European Union without an agreement.
The guidance confirms that airlines “would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission”.
The backstop, according to the Department for Transport (DfT), would be “bilateral arrangements between the UK and an individual EU country”.
As the UK leaves the European Union and its cohesive “open skies” arrangements, complex issues from airline ownership to safety certification remain to be resolved.
Mr de Juniac said: “The UK government’s papers on the air transport implications of a ‘no-deal’ departure from the EU clearly exposes the extreme seriousness of what is at stake.
“An assumption that ‘it will be all right on the night’ is far too risky to accept.
“Every contingency should be prepared for, and we call upon both the EU and the UK to be far more transparent with the state of the discussions.”
He warned that even if mutual recognition of existing standards is achieved, airlines and governments faced a heavy administrative burden which will “take time and significant resources”.
The DfT insists the prospect of a no-deal exit “remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome”.
But in the event of a departure without agreement, “the UK would envisage granting permission to EU airlines to continue to operate [and] would expect EU countries to reciprocate in turn”.
The DfT is telling travellers: “In the unlikely scenario we leave the EU without a deal, plans are in place to ensure you can continue to travel as normal.
“UK citizens planning a trip to Europe in the short term do not need to take immediate action. The government will set out clearly and in good time what additional steps may be required.”
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