Deal or no deal? The two pathways for aviation Brexit

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Brexit, the most hated word in the English language at present, seems to never end, but despite the political impasse and the lack of patriotic solutions that put country first, there are now clearly two ways Anglo-European aviation can proceed.

For this we have Option One with an agreement and Option Two – without.

The aim here is to lay down exactly what we face and what it means for YOU the fare paying passenger.

Assuming that the 29th March at 2300hrs sees the UK leave the EU this is what will happen.

The only options are that Article 50 is unilaterally rescinded by the UK, in which case nothing changes and we don’t leave, or there is an extension to the leave date. That is exceptionally unlikely as the 27 EU states have to agree it, and they’re unlikely to unless it’s for an election or second referendum in the UK, and the UK parliament would have to pass a law to prevent the date taking effect. The later is now even less likely following an amendment withdrawal in parliament, and the second referendum is pretty much dead for the same reason. An election isn’t due or likely now until 2022.

So what happens on 29th March at 2300hrs?

With an agreement

  1. All flights continue as they are now to and from the UK/EU
  2. UK-based and EU based airlines may schedule new routes to and from each other.
  3. UK owned airlines will be excluded from flying internal EU routes – this is why easyJet moved a huge part of ts fleet to the Austrian register and most of its pilots licences to Austria. This may resume later when a new aviation agreement is signed after the expiry of the interim withdrawal agreement in December 2021.
  4. EU airlines will not be allowed to fly UK domestic routes.
  5. UK-Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Albania flights will continue as they are regardless – these are non-EU countries and the EU permits British airlines to fly over it without permission as part of the Five Freedoms of Aviation. Likewise EU flights may fly over the UK.
  6. Flights to Canada and the United States are subject to a new Open Skies agreement with the UK, already agreed that takes effect on March 29th.
  7. All other routes to and from the UK are subject to bilateral arrangements with the origin airline state. For example Qatar Airways Doha to Birmingham, isn’t restricted by the EU as it’s an overflight issue under the Five Freedoms.
  8. Technical aviation services, maintenance licences, crew qualifications will be recognised until a new agreement on aviation is reached before December 2021.
  9. Passports will be recognised by both sides for travel up to 90 days until a new agreement is introduced by December 2021. After that UK citizens will have to pay a €7 fee for a three-year EU-ESTA type authorisation to travel. The UK is expected to operate a similar system.
  10. Security at airports is accepted as a certain standard across the EU, and the UK. This will continue to be mutually recognised until the new agreement in December 2021.

Without an agreement

  1. All flights continue as they are now to and from Europe for the six months ending 29th September 2019. After that, without a deal, they literally stop dead.
  2. UK and EU based airlines will NOT be permitted to commence any new routes or adjust existing ones to and from each other.
  3. All UK-based airlines will not be permitted to fly internal EU routes.
  4. EU airlines cannot fly fly UK domestic routes.
  5. UK-Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Albania flights will continue as they are regardless – these are non-EU countries and the EU permits British airlines to fly over it without permission as part of the Five Freedoms of Aviation. Likewise EU flights may fly over the UK.
  6. Flights to Canada and the United States are subject to a new Open Skies agreement with the UK, already agreed that takes effect on March 29th.
  7. All other routes to and from the UK are subject to bilateral arrangements with the origin airline state. For example Qatar Airways Doha to Birmingham, isn’t restricted by the EU as it’s an overflight issue under the Five Freedoms.
  8. Technical aviation services, maintenance licences, crew qualifications will be recognised FOR SIX MONTHS until September 29th 2019. After that pilots, cabin crew, UK certified serviced aircraft will be banned from EU airspace and the reverse applies to the EU in the UK.
  9. Passports will be recognised for six months and 90 days of EU travel and the reverse applies in the UK. After that UK/EU citizens will technically require a full Visa for travel, a situation that hasn’t occurred since the 1940’s and will in effect, grind travel to Europe to a halt.
  10. Security at airports is accepted as a certain standard across the EU, and the UK. This will continue to be mutually recognised for SIX MONTHS. After that without an agreement, UK luggage in transit through European airports is subject to in-transit collection and screening at the midway airport, before being loaded on to the next flight. Seamless travel from Birmingham to Vienna for example, via Frankfurt with checked luggage where you don’t see the bags until your destination will stop.

Airlines are claiming robust summer bookings to and from the UK suggesting that the consequences of no deal, are to most people so complex and nebulous, that they have no idea, or that the travel agencies and airlines are saying nothing to alert them and cut off the cash flow of forward booked fares.

It took me an hour of talking to several people and a couple of travel agencies to find out that both apply. The general comment was “well nobody knows so were not changing anything”.

It has to be stressed that the EU offered the no deal arrangements along with a number of temporary measures regarding transport and air cargo, on condition the UK agreed reciprocation, which it has. But have no doubt these are for six months. If there’s no treaty after that, unless one is in the process of being actively negotiated and near conclusion, its game over.

Are your summer holidays safe in 2019? For the most part yes. Is your passport going to be acceptable? If its got more than a year left, yes, if under, that’s still being discussed.

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