It has been a year since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered article 50 confirming Brexit and announcing that the UK will definitely be leaving the European Union.
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Due to leave on the 29 March 2019, a year from today, uncertainty over the UK’s position within the EU still hangs high.
In particular, Brexit has caused concern for the aviation industry as both passenger and airline rights remain unclear.
If a deal is yet to be reached, passengers hoping to fly next year are left without EU protection and airlines run the risk of not being granted entry into certain airspace.
Earlier in the month, Which? revealed that passengers are being inadequately informed as to the risks Brexit poses to airlines.
In a March press conference, Ryanair’s CMO Kenny Jacobs explained why the question mark hanging over Brexit was a cause for concern for the airline.
“There’s just uncertainty for any business in terms of making investment decisions whether that’s car manufacturers, or supermarkets, or where you base the aircraft if you’re an airline. This uncertainty is more negative for business than making short-term profits.”
Although the airline has made it clear they are not expecting to ground flight over the issue, from September, the budget airline will be selling 2019 with a Brexit caveat.
Kenny told the BBC: “Everyone is saying it’ll be all right on the night once we get closer to April 2019. I don’t think you can take that for granted.”
From September onwards, passengers booking with Ryanair should expect to see the following warning on tickets: “This flight is subject to the regulatory environment allowing the flight to take place.”
According to a report released by Moody on the 27 March, a potential Brexit draft deal agreement “is credit positive for UK airports, but uncertainties remain.”
The report outlined that the heads of EU and UK governments “endorsed the terms of a transition arrangement that will follow the UK’s formal exit from the EU on 29 March 2019.”
As such an additional 21 month leeway period has been suggested for the transition surrounding transport to be implemented.
The guidelines state that “regarding transport services, the aim should be to ensure continued connectivity between the UK and the EU after the UK withdrawal.
This could be achieved, inter alia, through an air transport agreement, combined with aviation safety and security agreements, as well as agreements on other modes of transport, while ensuring a strong level playing field in highly competitive sectors”.
This would imply that airlines and those wishing to fly freely between the UK and the EU would face minimal disruption with the additional 21 months being used to ensure the correct deal is made.
However, with the customary position that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” both UK and EU leaders need to agree on the European Common Aviation Area.
In particular a decision on hard borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Until a firm decision has been made, Moody warns that UK airports are still at risk of loss of air traffic rights overnight, if a transition period is not agreed, and in the event of a no aviation deal scenario.
This could mean lower completion levels for airlines and higher fares for passengers. If the outcome ends in a no aviation deal, UK airports are at risk of being severely affected.