Transport and Environment (T&E) campaign group urges the European Union to impose the requirement for the United Kingdom and its aviation companies to maintain compliance with the EU environment rules in exchange to current levels of access to aviation market after the UK leaves EU in March 2019.

“The UK's airports and airlines must abide by EU state-aid rules after Brexit if they are to continue their current easy access to one of the world’s largest aviation markets,” says Kristina Wittkopp, legal analyst at T&E according to a statement released on December 12, 2017. “Anything else would create an unfair advantage and see the UK aviation industry increase traffic and thus emissions through handouts to its domestic aviation industry”.

The group also explains that excluding UK routes from this purchasing requirement would distort competition and weaken existing European aviation climate measures. “At present UK airlines are free to operate anywhere within the EU without restrictions on capacity, frequency or pricing. So they can, for example, operate domestic EU routes like Athens to Berlin. Any Brexit deal continuing this freedom must ensure the UK does not quit the aviation ETS so that these airlines’ flights between the UK and Europe (for example, London-Rome) will still be required to purchase allowances. The ETS requires carbon emitters to purchase allowances for around €7 per tonne of CO₂ equivalent, though the price is expected to increase”.

Currently it is believed that the UK government will negotiate with the EU remaining part of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) post-Brexit, as a membership option for non-EU countries is foreseen in EASA’s regulations Article 66 and exercised by Switzerland and Norway.

This option would also allow the UK to meet the demand by US Federal Aviation Authority to solve the pressing issue of the aviation regulation after the EU leave. For EASA, UK staying would mean no need to find the replacement for 40% of its officials with expert knowledge currently coming from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Otherwise, as the European Commission recently warned according to Reuters, the UK airlines could no longer fly to the European Union, between its member states or to the third countries the EU has aviation agreements with, take the United States under the Open Skies agreement, for example.

However, the move is seen as a crossing of a ‘red line’ by the pro-Brexit parties, as remaining part of the EASA would also mean remaining under the indirect jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Residents of Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23, 2016. The country is expected to officially part ways with the EU in March 2019.