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Europe’s airports warn of Brexit risks
A no-deal Brexit could leave aviation in a legal vacuum. © Heathrow Airport

Europe’s airports warn of Brexit risks

The European airport industry has again warned about the potential impact of Brexit on European air transport, underlining the risks of a no-deal scenario.

The European airport industry has again warned about the potential impact of Brexit on European air transport, connectivity and the wider economy during a public hearing on the subject in the European Parliament in Brussels.

The warning comes more than one year after the UK's vote to leave the EU, amidst continuing uncertainty as to what will happen when the UK exits the EU, including the possibility of the UK leaving the EU "with no deal," i.e. without a new trading relationship with the bloc being defined and agreed.

ACI Europe, the European branch of airport operators’ association Aviation Council International, is calling on the UK to urgently come up with a detailed and comprehensive position on Brexit for aviation. This position should allow the UK to safeguard and further develop its air connectivity with the EU27 and beyond - recognising this as a cornerstone of the country’s future prosperity. For the association, continued participation in the Single European Aviation Market would be the best option.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe, said “We remain completely in the dark as to what will happen on 1 April 2019 and we have no idea how long this uncertainty will persist. The fact that the UK has yet to define a clear and detailed position as to what it wants - not just in terms of its new relationship with the EU, but also about how to transition there - is not helping. This only results in precious time being lost and potentially increases the risk of a no-deal scenario – which should be avoided at all cost, as it could ultimately result in flights between the UK and the EU being suspended.”

ACI Europe underlines the risks of a “no deal” scenario, where UK-EU relations would be covered by WTO rules. The latter do not cover air transport services. Jankovec comments: “While falling back on WTO rules would still be far from ideal and would come with significant costs, it still means businesses can rely on an alternative legal framework allowing them to keep operating and plan for contingencies accordingly. That is not the case for aviation. As it now stands, in the absence of a deal on a transition or the future regime, aviation would simply fall into a legal vacuum – which if not addressed could simply mean no flights.”

ACI Europe is urging the UK and each of the EU27 countries to look at what alternative legal framework would apply to aviation in the case of a no deal scenario – as part of their own contingencies.

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