Ryanair warn flights to Europe could be grounded after Brexit

Ryanair says that it has already ‘pivoted growth away from the UK to other EU airports’

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The Independent Online

Low-cost airline Ryanair has issued yet another grave warning on the possible effects of Brexit on the travel industry, saying that if the UK doesn’t come up with a coherent post-split plan, flights to the rest of Europe could be grounded.

The Dublin-headquartered company, which operates more than 1,800 flights to over 200 destinations in 33 countries daily, urged the UK Government in a statement to “put aviation at the forefront of its negotiations with the EU and provide a coherent post-Brexit plan.”

If it doesn’t, Ryanair says that Westminster risks leaving the “leaving the UK without any flights to/from Europe for a period from March 2019, when it exits the EU”.  

Ryanair said that it had already “pivoted growth away from the UK to other EU airports”. It said that it would not be basing any new aircraft at any of its 19 UK airports this year.

“It's become worrying that the UK Government seems to have no plan B to maintain Britain's liberalised air links with Europe,” chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said.

Fears have been gripping the aviation industry for months that Brexit could result in the UK losing access to the EU's Open Skies deregulated aviation market.

According to Reuters, the flexibility afforded by the Open Skies policy, which was introduced in 1997, has been critical to Ryanair's expansion. A third of Ryanair's 120 million passengers now fly from UK airports, according to Reuters.

“The best we can hope for is a new bilateral agreement between the UK and EU, however, we worry that Britain may not be able to negotiate such a bilateral in time for the release by airlines of summer 2019 schedules in mid-2018,” said Mr Jacobs.

“The UK Government must respond to the airlines and our customers, and put aviation at the top of its agenda when it negotiates its Brexit deal with Brussels. Britain's airlines, airports and holidaymakers need a real and early solution for aviation, or risk Britain being cut off from Europe in March 2019," he added.