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How Brexit will Change the Aviation Industry

Photo source: Euorpean Parliament

Photo source: Euorpean Parliament

Aviation is one of the sectors that will be affected from the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.

As of January 1, 2021, the UK will leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as well as all EU policies and international agreements. It’s departure from the EU will create barriers to cross-border mobility and put an end to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital with the bloc.

Although the official text of the new Brexit agreement between the EU and the UK has yet to be released, the European Commission has listed the consequences of the UK’s choice to leave the bloc.

Regarding aviation, connectivity between the UK and the EU will be highly affected among other things.

To ensure connectivity between EU and UK airports for passengers, goods and mail, the agreement sets out new terms and conditions for market access, as well as arrangements for cooperation in the areas of aviation safety, security and air traffic management.

UK carriers will be able to fly across the territory of the EU without landing; make technical stops in the territory of the EU for non-traffic purposes; and carry passengers and/or cargo on any routes between a given point in the UK and a point in the EU.


UK airlines no longer participate in the fully liberalised EU aviation market, meaning that they will no longer be considered as EU carriers and will lose existing traffic rights in the EU:
• They can no longer operate passenger and/or cargo flights between EU destinations based on UK-issued licence
• They can no longer perform onwards carriage services between the UK and two other Member States (e.g. Manchester-Munich-Warsaw)
• They will not be allowed to operate passenger flights onwards between the UK, a Member State and a third country (e.g. London-Amsterdam-Bangkok)

– UK no longer participates in or contributes to shaping standards in EU Aviation Safety Agency

Photo source: European Parliament

Photo source: Euorpean Parliament

– UK air carriers wishing to fly under the new EU-UK agreement will have to comply with certain conditions, such as holding a valid licence from the UK’s competent authorities, having their principal place of business in the UK and being majority UK-owned and controlled. UK carriers that are majority UK-/EEA- and/or Swiss-owned and controlled at the end of the transition period may also continue to operate.
EU carriers will have to respect similar conditions on licences and principal place of business and continue to comply with EU requirements on EU/EEA/Switzerland majority ownership and control.


The Commission does note benefits of the EU-UK agreement on aviation:

– Unlimited point-to-point traffic between EU and UK airports
– Onward carriage will be possible for the carriage of cargo to/from a third country (e.g. Paris-London-New York), if Member States agree this bilaterally and reciprocally with the UK
– Cooperation on aviation safety, security and air traffic management
– Provisions on ground handling and slots (nondiscrimination & access), on top of horizontal level playing field clauses on environment, social issues and competition

EU passenger rights

Photo © Heathrow Airport

Photo © Heathrow Airport

As of January 1, 2021, the level of protection of passengers travelling between the EU and the United Kingdom will be affected, as the UK will be a third country.

EU air passenger rights will continue to apply to flights operated from the UK to the EU by an EU airline, or to flights operated from the EU to the UK, whether operated by an EU or a UK airline. They will not however apply to UK-operated flights from the UK to the EU.

Nonetheless, the EU-UK agreement provides that both parties will guarantee that effective measures are put in place to protect access to information for passengers, passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility, reimbursement and compensation, and the efficient handling of complaints.

Free movement

Regarding the end of free movement for persons, UK citizens will no longer have the freedom to work, study, start a business or live in the EU. They will need visas for long-term stays in the EU. Border checks will apply, passports will need to be stamped, and EU pet passports will no longer be valid for UK residents.

The European Commission on December 24 reached the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the United Kingdom on the terms of its future cooperation with the European Union, following months of disagreements and intensive negotiations.

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  1. Carl Simpson Reply

    Lets hope Greece takes the same stance as Portugal and relaxes the laws a little after all we are allies of Greece in a war situation alt least.

  2. Niki Bigrave Reply

    Our children and grandchildren will be the losers a d will pay a heavy price due to the pathetic and thoughtless Brexit vote .

  3. Nick Giles Reply

    Let us hope that the UK and Greek authorities can quickly come to an agreement regarding the use of EU gates for UK citizens and vice versa and other issues as the revitalisation of the travel industry between our countries is vital after the disaster that has been 2020.

  4. Roger Collins Reply

    An absolute tragedy which will damage the U.K. for decades and makes it citizens poorer, less well protected and with fewer opportunities.

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