A trade body that represents the vast majority of airlines around the world has warned a no-Deal Brexit is likely to result in travel chaos at airports in both the United Kingdom and across Europe. The new warning from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) echoes that of other industry leaders including Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary.
The UK is set to leave the European Union in March 2019 – its so-called Brexit – but with the two sides failing to get anywhere in long and very drawn out negotiations, there’s increasing concern the country will crash out of the EU without any deal being agreed.
“With less than six months to go, we have little more certainty than we did in June 2016,” cautions Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive. de Juniac says the risks of not addressing key issues could mean “chaos for travellers and interrupted supply chains.”
He is calling on officials from both the UK and European Union to give urgent attention to air transport issues, saying they have a responsibility to millions of “their citizens who depend on reliable air transportation.” With a no-deal Brexit seemingly becoming riskier as every day without a deal passes, IATA says contingency plans are urgently needed.
Last month, British civil servants issued guidance on what they expected to happen if a deal couldn’t be risked – saying that flights between many countries outside of Europe would go unaffected, while officials were working with individual European countries on air services agreements that would allow flights to operate uninterrupted.
Some British pro-Brexit MP’s have previously argued a deal isn’t strictly necessary as Europe would never allow the disruption and financial loss from grounding flights with the UK.
IATA admits that regulators may be able to agree a “barebones agreement” that will allow a small number of flights to operate but much more needs to be done and much more quickly.
“A backstop contingency plan to keep planes flying after March must be published, and quickly,” de Juniac told reporters on Wednesday. The IATA chief also raised concerns over aviation safety and security, as well as the impact on immigration queues after Brexit. He says IATA, along with its member airlines will be left picking up the pieces come Brexit day.
Unfortunately, de Junaic’s concern is unlikely to get much of a response from top negotiators on either the British or EU side. This deal is likely to go to the wire – only time will tell whether planes will be grounded come 29th March 2019.
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