MPs assure trade about EU air deal

MPs assure trade about EU air deal

A senior MP has assured corporate travel leaders they can expect “a decent outcome” to negotiations on air traffic rights with the EU as easyJet’s Carolyn McCall warned: “No one knows what will happen.”

Iain Stewart MP, parliamentary private secretary to international trade secretary Liam Fox, told the GTMC conference in London: “The media summarises the options as hard or soft Brexit, but the reality is very different. It’s in the interests of the rest of Europe to continue to trade openly with us.”

Asked whether Britain would retain open air access to the EU, Stewart said: “I’m confident there will be a commonsense arrangement.”

He hailed the decision to build a third Heathrow runway, saying it was “a signal of confidence”, adding: “We can’t let short-term inconvenience and fear trump long-term objectives.”

Stewart noted: “The Gatwick option was weaker because it’s the wrong side of London and the railway connecting Gatwick to the capital is one of the most‑congested in the world.”

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “We’ve heard about Nissan and the car industry [being reassured on access to the EU], but we haven’t heard anything about aviation and it’s incredibly important. At the moment we fly freely across 28 states. No one knows what will happen with that.”

However, she said: “I’m optimistic. [Transport secretary] Chris Grayling understands the issues.” She added: “Everyone is talking about Brexit as though it’s just about Britain, and it’s not. Everyone in Europe is looking for certainty and stability, and that is in our interests. We have to put this in perspective.”

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