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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Is Brexit destroying our airports?

I have blogged previously on the impact of Brexit on the ability of British airlines to operate freely within Europe. International air travel depends on a host of bilateral treaties, and there is no default fallback for the UK outside the EU.

It is unsurprising therefore that UK airports have joined forces to press the government to urgently strike a post-Brexit deal on flights between the UK and the EU, warning that the current uncertainty alone would be enough to see bookings drop by up to 41%.

The Guardian says that a report submitted to ministers by the owners of Manchester, Stansted, Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports concludes that even if flights are not interrupted in March 2019 when Britain leaves the EU passenger numbers are likely to be hit hard without early assurances:

The report, written by WPI Economics on behalf of the airports, found that almost half of passengers booking in the year ahead were likely to change their travel plans if there was any doubt over the status of flights.

British airlines can operate freely within Europe, but international air travel otherwise depends on a host of bilateral treaties, and there is no default fallback for the UK outside the EU.

Ryanair in particular has been warning of the prospect of flights between Britain and the EU being unable to operate without a deal, although other airlines have dismissed the possibility.

But the report warns: “Although an 11th-hour deal may prevent planes from being grounded, damage to the aviation industry and the wider economy would have already been done.”

It added: “The closer we get to the article 50 deadline for the completion of withdrawal negotiations (end of March 2019), without the security of guaranteed future access to the single aviation market, the greater the negative economic consequences will be.”

While the worst-case scenario from the economists’ modelling would see 8 million fewer passengers in 2019, their central forecast is 2.3 million, or 11.5%, fewer air passenger bookings expected before March 2019 for travel on UK-EU routes after the article 50 deadline. Air freight will also be affected.

The report urges the government to strike a deal as soon as possible, ideally before spring 2018. “Not doing so could mean that, hundreds of thousands of passengers and aircraft movements are affected. This will be bad for the aviation industry and bad for the economy ... The UK’s overseas trading relationships and domestic economic activity supported by air travel will suffer.”

Yet another reason why we need to think again on leaving the EU.
Thank you, Peter. It is astounding how this government misses important points in international regulations, not only regarding airports and travel. I am so glad that the Liberal Democrats put a finger on this. Please keep us informed - well done.
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