No-Deal Brexit – A Dark Cloud Looming Over The World Of Aviation
Two years ago big red busses with the words “we send the EU £350m a week, let’s fund our NHS instead” were roaming the streets of The Great Britain. Those words had a huge impact on UK voters, who chose to leave the European Union on a referendum. Unfortunately, no one knew what would come with that choice - a study by the Center for European Reform showed, that currently the UK is losing £440m a week because of the Brexit impact on the economy.
Even though UK residents are going to the streets to protest against Brexit, the UK is still scheduled to leave the EU at 11pm GMT on 29 March 2019 and so far it’s unknown what will come next. With less than half a year left, the fact that no agreement between the EU and the UK had been reached so far is looming like a dark cloud above everyone’s heads. So what will happen if no deal will be reached before the 29thof March?
A no-deal Brexit would have a great impact on many fields, but probably one of the biggest uncertainties lies with the air travel. If no agreement is reached, the UK becomes a third country with closed borders. Flights from the UK would not be able to land in the EU airports unless bilateral agreements, EU Commission decision would be made or temporary national permits for air transport were given out. Some think that flight after a no-deal Brexit would fall under the ICAO and its Freedoms of the Air, that allow aircrafts to fly across the territory of either state without landing; to land in either state for non-traffic purposes, e.g., refueling without boarding or disembarking passengers; to land in the territory of the first state and disembark passengers coming from the home state of the airline; to land in the territory of the first state and board passengers travelling to the home state of the airline; to land in the territory of the first state and board passengers travelling on to a third state where the passengers disembark, e.g., a scheduled flight from the United States to France could pick up traffic in the UK and take all to France (sometimes termed beyond rights). Unfortunately, it’s not clear if the ICAO freedoms would play in this case, so there is a possibility that flights from the UK would not be carried out until some agreements are reached. With that in mind, so called “Cinderella” flights are truly a headache.
There will be 10 “Cinderella” flights - planes will take off from five British airports on the evening of 29 March 2019, while the UK is still a member of the EU, and land already after Brexit. These passengers will arrive as “third country nationals,” will have to go through customs and might even need visas for their destination countries.
Airlines sell flight tickets up to a year in advance so Brexit has them preparing for the worst case scenario. Thomas Cook Airlines updated their terms and conditions, referring to a no-deal Brexit as one of the situations it cannot control, under the graph of “civil unrest or events arising out of political instability.” Ryanair also revealed their position in a statement, where they disclosed, that the airline could stop flights from and to the UK for three weeks if needed due to Brexit.
A no-deal Brexit would have crucial consequences not only for aviation, but for the tourism industry in general. Until individual deals between countries would be made, tourism to and from the UK would need to go into stagnation. Statistics from 2016 show, that 70% of tourists visiting London come from the EU countries. With strict borders and a need for passports instead of ID cards tourists might have more difficult time traveling to the UK. Outbound tourism would also suffer as in 2017, UK residents took 72.8 million trips overseas in total, with Spain being the most visited country with over 15.8 million visits.
The UK separation from the EU also means that Britain will no longer need to follow the EU Regulation 261/2004, that was put together to protect air passengers’ rights. It is still unclear if the UK will create their own version of the regulation or drop it altogether, leaving passengers without any security guarantees.
March is quickly approaching us, but the Brexit deal is nowhere to be seen. Only time will tell what the impact of this political move will have on the UK, the EU and the world in general.
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