Friday, 12 January 2018

What if "no deal" Brexit. EU Commission Notice - Air Transport

Civil aviation is a strategically important sector that makes a vital contribution to the EU's overall economy and employment.  Aviation supports close to 5 million jobs and contributes €300 billion, or 2.1% to European GDP.   Global air transport over the long term is expected to grow by around 5% annually until 2030.  How would a "no deal" Brexit affect this crucial sector? 

As mentioned in the previous post, the European Commission has published its views about the impact of a "no deal" Brexit on various sectors - HERE - and, in particular, see the Air Transport Notice 11th December 2017.



This post takes a closer look at the Air Transport Notice dated 11th December which begins by stating -

The United Kingdom submitted on 29 March 2017 the notification of its intention to withdraw from the Union pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This means that unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another date or the period is extended by the European Council in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, all Union primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019, 00:00h (CET) ('the withdrawal date'). The United Kingdom will then become a 'third country'.

The consequences of this will be massive in the absence of the Brexit negotiations leading to an agreement protecting air transport operations.  The following are key points in the Notice:

Air Carriers holding EU operating licences - licences could become invalid unless conditions in Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 are met.  No undertaking established in the Community is permitted to carry by air passengers, mail and/or cargo for remuneration and/or hire unless it has been granted the appropriate operating licence (Article 3).  The conditions for grant of an operating licence are in Article 4 and include a requirement that the principal place of business of an undertaking has to be located in an EU member State.

At withdrawal date, the operating licences granted to airlines by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will no longer be valid EU operating licences.  To continue to operate within the EU it will be necessary for Air Carriers to "consider any measure required to ensure that the conditions for holding an EU operating licence are complied with in all circumstances."

International aspects - As of the withdrawal date, the UK will automatically cease to be covered by the air transport agreements of the EU including the EU / USA Air Transport Agreement.

UK Air Carriers will no longer enjoy traffic rights under any air transport agreement to which the EU is a party, be it to or from the territory of the UK, be it to or from the territory of any of the EU member states.

The Notice goes on to specify the consequences for air carriers of EU member states and for air carriers which are not EU members.

Aviation certificates and licences - the Notice concludes by saying that further information on aviation certificates and licences as well as other aviation safety related questions  will be made available on the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) website - see THIS LINK.

It is worth noting that there are some Bilateral Agreements in place between EASA and some other countries - e.g. Canada.

BALPA view etc:

In October 2017 the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) published its view that "no deal" would spell disaster for British civil aviation - HERE.

"Commenting on suggestions by the Prime Minister that a Brexit ‘no deal’ was now an option, BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said:

“The entire UK aviation sector which employs nearly a million people and carries more than 250 million passengers per annum would be devastated by a Brexit ‘no deal’.

“Unlike most other sectors there are no World Trade Organisation or any other rules to fall back on for aviation if there is no deal.

“UK airlines could find they have to stop flying – it’s that serious.  And this would impact passengers long before March 2019 because airlines couldn’t sell advance tickets and, frankly, would passengers risk buying them?

“It is utter madness for anyone to think that a Brexit ‘no deal’ would be anything but a total disaster for our world leading UK aviation sector and beyond. After all, without air cargo we will not be able to export or import freely. The entire industry has said that we have to see evidence of the post-Brexit plan for aviation now if we are to avert a catastrophic crisis of confidence.”

I have seen little since that October statement to suggest that the problem has been addressed and the EU Commission Notice only bears out the pessimism.  Let's hope that the Brexit negotiations in 2018 result in a happier scenario.  After all, whilst the Brexit Secretary seems to have Royal Air Force jets at his disposal (here), the rest of us might need to fly from time-to-time after Brexit.

See also European Commission - Mobility and Transport - AIR


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