As the countdown begins to the UK’s exit from the European Union on March 29, the European Commission proposed on Wednesday, two legislative short-term measures aimed at limiting disruption to air traffic as part of its contingency plans in case of a no-deal scenario.
The said regulations are part of 14 measures addressing eight sectors – including transport and aviation – and expected to come into effect in the case of a no-deal Brexit, and remain valid through to the end of March 2020.
According to the Commission, the proposals are aimed at limiting potential damage of a hard Brexit, which “would create major disruption for citizens and businesses”.
Among others, the proposals include extending the validity of certain European Aviation Safety Agency certificates as well as ensuring ‘basic connectivity’ for 12 months by temporarily allowing flights from the UK to fly into and over the EU.
The idea, the EC said, is to guarantee “basic connectivity that will suffice to cover the basic needs of the member countries’ economies” but at the same time not ensuring the continuation of existing air transport services under the same terms.
Under the measures, UK airlines can make a technical stop in the EU or fly over the EU, but cannot operate freely within the EU. Capacity will also be restricted, “not exceeding the total number of frequencies operated by those carriers on those routes during respectively the IATA winter and summer seasons of the year of 2018,” the proposed regulation states.
In addition, the EC measures do not provide for cooperative marketing arrangements, leasing of aircraft, etc. EU member states will not be allowed to negotiate or enter into any bilateral air services deals with the UK, and cannot grant UK air carriers more traffic rights than those listed in the said regulation.
In terms of ownership, UK airlines, the Commission said, will have to be majority owned by UK interest or by EU-European Economic Area interests “in any combination, whether alone or together” with the UK or UK nationals.
The UK’s transport secretary, Chris Grayling, welcomed the European Commission’s suggestions, as did the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), which however is calling for a wide-reaching reciprocal aviation agreement.
“We welcome plans for extending the current agreements and are pleased to have received a response from the UK DfT confirming that they are ‘seeking fully liberalised aviation market access with the EU’,” said Montserrat Barriga, ERA director general, adding however, that “ERA continues to urge both parties to work towards a detailed, wide-reaching reciprocal aviation agreement to secure European connectivity to continue to fulfil business and people’s needs”.