Comment: EU flying rights at top of long list of travel Brexit issues

Comment: EU flying rights at top of long list of travel Brexit issues

EasyJet UK director Sophie Dekkers told the latest Travel Weekly Business Breakfast last week that she can’t foresee a scenario in which EU countries would not want an aviation deal post-Brexit.

Her optimism is based on the fact that tourism is of huge importance to countries such as Spain, where the UK represents 25% of the inbound industry.

As prime minister Theresa May finally fired the starting gun on Brexit negotiations by triggering Article 50 this week, let’s hope easyJet’s assessment is not misplaced.

What Brexit will mean for the aviation sector is one of the many factors that hang in the balance and about which there can be no certainty.

Reassurances from government figures such as David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the EU, that a good deal for the UK can be done are welcome.

But the complexity and scale of the task ahead means British businesses must prepare for a protracted period of uncertainty as the horse-trading begins.

Abta publicly criticised Davis this month over his recent claim that reciprocal medical rights could be lost for UK citizens, and alarm has been raised at the prospect of Brits needing visas to visit Europe.

According to easyJet, transport secretary Chris Grayling has given assurances that aviation is at the top of his agenda because it is the mode of transport potentially most impacted by Brexit.

An early agreement on flying rights is vital to maintain confidence before other vital issues such as the status of EU citizens working in the UK and Brits working in Europe are tackled.

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