UK-EU flight disruption 'theoretically possible' in the event of a no-deal Brexit, admits Chris Grayling

‘Crashing out without a deal would be a total disaster for the UK aviation sector,’ says Labour’s shadow aviation minister

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 29 October 2018 14:20
Comments
UK-EU flight disruption theoretically possible in the event of a no deal Brexit

The transport secretary Chris Grayling has conceded that flights between the UK and European Union could be disrupted in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but insisted it is “highly unlikely”.

Last week it was revealed by Department for Transport (DfT) officials that talks with Europe on aviation links have not begun.

Chris Grayling told the Airport Operators Association (AOA) annual conference: “It is theoretically possible that EASA [the European Aviation Safety Agency] could refuse or delay the certification of UK-certified planes. That is what could cause disruption.

“I think it is highly unlikely.”

At the same event in 2017, Mr Grayling said it was “inconceivable” that flights would be grounded.

At present any EU airline can fly anywhere in the European Union under the “open skies” agreement. A no-deal Brexit would require fresh aviation treaties to allow UK-Europe flights.

Last week Lucy Chadwick, director general at the DfT, said that agreements on air services between Britain and the EU comprise “an area of growing concern to us”.

She told the Public Accounts Committee: “We have not been able to start those bilateral discussions or multilateral discussions yet with either member states or indeed with the [European] Commission.”

Mr Grayling said today: “We want to get this sorted out. It’s late in the day.

“I’ve always believed that negotiations with the European Union would run right up to the wire.

“We will start formal talks [on an air services agreement] as soon as they are prepared to start formal talks.

“I have not met one single person, either in the commission or a member state, who believes there will be an interruption to aviation.”

Derek Provan, chief executive of the airports group that includes Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton, said: “‘Unlikely’ doesn’t really help the planning process. There’s a lot of time, energy and cost in contingency planning.”

Ryanair is warning investors: “Depending on the outcome of negotiations between the UK and the EU, there remains a distinct possibility that there may be no flights, for an unknown period of time, between the UK and the EU from the end of March 2019.”

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

But in reference to Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, Mr Grayling said: “It is worth saying that the airline boss who has been most vociferous in saying that planes might be grounded is currently selling tickets for next summer and expanding the number of routes between the UK and the European Union.”

Labour’s shadow aviation minister, Karl Turner, told the AOA event that a no-deal Brexit was becoming “more and more possible”.

“Crashing out without a deal would be a total disaster for the UK aviation sector,” he said.

Airport bosses have also expressed concern on the effects of Brexit.

Karen Smart, managing director of the leading freight airport, East Midlands, said: “My biggest risk is that Operation Stack ends up on the M1.

“We expect extra processes in place which will slow it down. We’re identifying space where we would hold vehicles off.”

John Irving, chief executive of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said: “It’s been a challenge to bring in a seasonal workforce. This year coming it’s going to be harder.

“It’s pretty clear that people who would have come to the UK to work have gone elsewhere.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in