Britain’s EU exit could prove “a disaster for a period”, Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs warned as he predicted: “It’s going to be an ugly divorce.”
Jacobs forecast airlines would cut plans for UK growth from 2019 without clarity on air traffic rights by early next year.
He told a Travel Weekly Business event in London: “We’ll be planning the summer of 2019 in spring 2018. We hope we have clarity [by then]. If we don’t, you will see every airline pare back growth rates in the UK.”
Jacobs said: “We’re growing 6% in the UK this year. The previous two years we grew by 12% and 10%.
“We would have liked to grow in the UK by a double digit amount this year, but we’ve pared back because there is this uncertainty that we don’t have in Germany.”
“We’ve called for a solution on open skies because it isn’t simple. We have the Swiss model and the Norwegian model, but something new has to be created.
“There are going to be some shitty bits [to Brexit] where it is a disaster for a period or a disaster full stop. It’s possible there won’t be flying.”
He said: “We need [some] urgency. Both the EU and UK have said they won’t take it industry by industry. Europe wants to talk about the cheque [for leaving]. That will probably take six months.
“It will be spring next year before they are really talking about how we trade with each other, and travel isn’t going to be at the top of the agenda.
“Everyone accepts that doing any deal in a two-year timeframe is probably impossible.”
However, Jacobs said: “My bet is it will be a soft Brexit because lot of things will change. [UK] inflation will go up. People are about to feel it could be bad.
“The clock is only starting now in terms of consumers feeling [the effects of] weaker sterling and inflation. [But] what that version of a softer Brexit will be no one knows.”
Jacobs added: “Ryanair and the low-cost airlines have probably done more for Europe than Brussels.
“Look at the mix of cultures, how people have been integrated – it is one of the best things that has happened.
“I don’t think Brexit will change that. British people love to travel, and that will continue.”
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