Wings Magazine

Brexit can’t erase established aviation partnerships: airline group

America’s biggest aviation trade body has called for the airline industry to be dealt with separately in Brexit negotiations, saying it is “absolutely essential” that new deals are struck with Europe and the U.S.

July 24, 2017  By The Telegraph

Airlines for America, whose members include American Airlines, Southwest and United, said there was a particular pressure to get an aviation deal agreed because the sector did not have historic rules to fall back on in the event the U.K. and EU cannot strike a Brexit deal.

“If there is no agreement between the U.K. and EU by March 2019, other sectors fall back on World Trade Organization rules but we have no legal framework under which to fly,” Nick Calio, the trade body’s chief executive, said.

“Divorce proceedings have just started but the negotiators have a lot of issues to deal with and our concern is aviation getting lost in a sea of very important issues. The EU wants to negotiate one large agreement without splitting things out but we believe you have to separate aviation.”

The EU-US Open Skies agreement was signed in 2007, liberalizing aviation between the two continents but when the U.K. leaves the bloc, it will no longer be under the auspices of the regulations, meaning they need to be replicated or a new version devised.


“It is absolutely essential that an Open Skies air transport agreement is put in place between the UK and the EU as well as between the United States and the U.K.,” the trade body said, adding both agreements needed to be operational immediately following the U.K.’s departure from the EU.

Calio added that there was extra pressure on the sector given airlines often begin selling tickets at least 300 days in advance, meaning the deadline for an aviation deal to be done was arguably as soon as next year.

“To avoid operational disruption and passenger inconvenience, if the parties have not reached agreement on Open Skies by April 2018, they should at least agree to transitional arrangements that will preserve the status quo post-Brexit until such an agreement is reached,” Calio said.

Securing a deal is important for the U.S. aviation industry given the U.K. is its biggest trading partner within the EU, and Airlines for America called Heathrow the “most important” transAtlantic hub.

According to the Air Transport Action Group, the U.K.’s aviation market is currently the largest in the EU, with one million jobs estimated to be linked to it and the sector generating £107bn a year towards GDP.


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