No-deal Brexit could force the cancellations of up to 5 million flights

Iata said that airlines 'do not know' what type of Brexit they are planning for

Cathy Adams
Monday 21 January 2019 17:28 GMT
No-deal Brexit would mean flight numbers capped at 2018 levels

Up to 5 million flights are at risk if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has warned.

The aviation trade association has said that while most flights will go ahead if the UK crashes out of the EU after 29 March, there “remains uncertainty” about future air travel.

The guidance from the EU states that a no-deal Brexit would lead to airlines capping flights at 2018 levels. This is in spite of airlines already selling tickets for 2019 routes.

Iata, which crunched the numbers of airlines’ planned 2019 capacity, estimated that up to 5 million extra airline seats are at risk of being cancelled if a no-deal Brexit occurs. Much of this extra capacity would typically be around the summer holidays to deal with family demand, Iata said.

The trade body added that airlines “do not know” what kind of Brexit they are planning for.

“That current flight levels will be protected even with a hard Brexit is an important assurance. But with two months left until Britain leaves the EU, airlines still do not know exactly what kind of Brexit they should be planning for,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.

He added: “There is legal and commercial uncertainty over how the Commission’s plan to cap flight numbers will work. In the small window remaining before Brexit it is imperative that the EU and UK prioritise finding a solution that brings certainty to airlines planning growth to meet demand and to travellers planning business trips and family holidays.”

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said that the “lack of warning for passengers is alarming”. The magazine examined the “booking journey” on a number of leading UK airlines’ website, and found no warning of the possible impact on travel if a no-deal Brexit occurred.

Boland added: “It is the job of airlines to tell passengers what is likely to happen. If they were more upfront it would give passengers the information they need to protect themselves.”

It appears that WizzAir is the only airline that has warned passengers about travel to Europe after 29 March. It urged its British customers to check whether their passports would still be valid for European travel after 29 March, when the UK leaves the EU. The UK government has launched a “check a passport” service, which helps British travellers find out if their passport is valid for travel to Europe after 29 March – in the event of no deal, UK passport holders will need a minimum of six months left on their travel documents.

However, consumer group Airlines UK has said that passengers should have “every confidence booking holidays and trips for travel on 30 March and beyond”, which echoes the message of transport secretary Chris Grayling: “Whether for business or leisure, travellers can continue to book with confidence.”

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