IATA has called for urgent action by the UK and the EU to put in place contingency planning for air services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The call for action also requested faster movement to bring certainty to the uninterrupted continuation of air connectivity, the framework for regulating safety and security, and the policies and processes needed for efficient border management.
The call for urgent attention to air transport issues in Brexit follows the release of an IATA-commissioned study of the effects of the UK leaving the EU on airlines flying to and from the UK.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said, “These are the most critical areas because there are no fallback agreements such as the WTO framework available in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario.
“Without any contingency planning being made transparent to the industry, the risks of not addressing these issues could mean chaos for travelers and interrupted supply chains. With less than six months to go, we have little more certainty than we did in June 2016.”
Even in the best-case scenario – where a Brexit transition phase is agreed for the period after March 2019 – a high degree of uncertainty and risk to air services remain. A no-deal or ‘hard’ Brexit outcome without an agreement for a transition period is likely to lead to significant disruption to air services. IATA argues the lack of transparency concerning any contingency planning for this scenario has left airlines unsure on what measures to take.
“The EU and UK have a responsibility to millions of their citizens who depend on reliable air transportation. The goal should be a comprehensive air services agreement that does not step backwards from the connectivity existing today,” De Juniac commented.
“But with the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit still on the table this late in the game, it is now essential that the EU and UK civil aviation authorities plan for contingency arrangements to maintain a minimum level of connectivity, which is vital for people and for business.
“This has to be one of the most important Brexit considerations. A backstop contingency plan to keep planes flying after March must be published, and quickly.”
IATA has called for the UK to remain in the EASA at least as a third country member. It says EASA and the UK CAA should be allowed to initiate detailed technical discussions on the future relationship between the two bodies. Mutual recognition of professional licenses, standards for materials and parts, and other safety elements, could be put in place to come into effect immediately after March.
Aviation security could be highly affected in the case of a no deal scenario: a no-deal Brexit increases the likelihood of EU travelers being added to already long queues at UK passport control.
IATA believes an alternative scenario would be to create a ‘third lane’, which could process EU passengers more quickly. In either scenario, investment is needed to recruit and train more staff.