UK airlines are unlikely to retain full European air rights post-Brexit


It’s becoming clear that following the EU meeting to discuss strategy this week, the UK will lose crucial rights for its airlines to fly in two key segments of the European market if it persists in its refusal to allow the European Court of Justice to remain the final court of arbitration, should there be a dispute.

  1. The right of UK owned airlines to fly between for example, Paris and Toulouse inside France, or Berlin and Munich inside Germany, will cease.
  2. The right of UK owned airlines to fly between two countries, for example, Spain and Holland, or Germany and Austria will cease.

This pair of the Nine Freedoms will also end rights of EU owned airlines from doing the same thing inside the UK, severely curtailing competition and forcing up prices. RyanAir for example would be forced to establish a UK-based operation to legally operate inside the UK, or operate to Europe from the UK, as its Irish based airline wouldn’t be allowed to transport people from the UK to Europe on direct flights (other than Ireland).

This would also sap European and British airlines of flexibility in aircraft utilisation, as non-UK registered aircraft wouldn’t be allowed to be used to fly UK passengers from the UK to a third state, and vice versa. This would mean for example that when Thomas Cook call over Condor aircraft registered in Germany to help with UK peak season high demand, that would no longer be possible. UK registered aircraft could also not be used for the same purpose in Europe.