Industry leaders are optimistic flights will continue in a no-deal Brexit scenario, but have raised fears consumer confidence could be damaged.
The government issued technical notices this week, which stated airlines “would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission” in the event of no deal. Coach services to EU countries could also be suspended.
However, Department for Transport guidance states: “A scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without agreement remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and EU in securing a negotiated outcome.”
Airlines played down fears that flights between the UK and EU could be grounded on March 29, 2019, while Abta said government notices suggest flights will continue in a no-deal scenario.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Even in a no‑deal scenario the government anticipates flights with the EU will continue and has outlined mitigating actions that it would take.
“But consumers will now be more aware of how their travel will be more difficult and potentially more costly in a no-deal scenario.
“Political decision-makers need to take a pragmatic approach to getting a deal done which includes priorities around travel.”
The association issued no-deal guidance to its members last week.
Joanna Kolatsis, director of legal consultancy Themis Advisory, warned that “consumer confidence could be affected”, but added: “It won’t last long. People will still book. It’s in everybody’s interests to keep flying.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the association that represents 13 UK-registered carriers, said: “Airlines are confident there will be an agreement on aviation. While we don’t support a no-deal Brexit, we welcome that both the UK and the EU are proposing in this event a minimum agreement that would cover flight and safety requirements.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators’ Association, said the technical notices “provide helpful clarity” and are “a step in the right direction”.
Ryanair, however, warned that the possibility of flights being grounded was being “underestimated”. Despite this, it put its 2019 summer schedule on sale last week with 23 new routes from London.
Thomas Cook Airlines chief executive Christoph Debus told a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast that he was “confident” airlines would find a post-Brexit “solution”.
Figures from analyst GfK show early holiday bookings for summer 2019 to the end of August were up almost 20% on the previous year.
Coach operators face wait on EU agreement
Coach operators have been told the UK government expects to secure an agreement with the EU to enable them to continue operating in the event of a no‑deal Brexit.
Technical guidance issued by the Department for Transport states the UK intends to join the Interbus Agreement as an independent member, enabling UK coach operators to make trips to countries in the union.
Interbus does not currently allow companies from outside the EU to run “regular” coach services but the DfT stressed there were proposals to extend it to include them.
Richard Calvert, chief executive of Shearings Holidays parent Specialist Leisure Group, said the coach operator was “monitoring the situation”. He said: “We will do everything possible to minimise any disruption to our customers, should there be any.”
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