‘Deal’ or ‘No Deal’ – IATA calls for ‘urgent action’ from UK and European Union to put in place Brexit contingency planning

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for “urgent action” by the UK and the European Union to put in place contingency planning for the continuation of air services in the event of a ‘no-deal Brexit’, and to move much faster to bring certainty to safeguarding the uninterrupted continuation of air connectivity, a framework for regulating safety and security and the policies and processes needed for efficient border management.


Summary:

  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for “urgent action” by the UK and the EU to put in place post-Brexit contingency planning;
  • The airline body urges politicians to move much faster to bring certainty to safeguarding the uninterrupted continuation of air connectivity;
  • IATA says a no-deal or ‘hard’ Brexit outcome, without an agreement for a transition period, is likely to lead to “significant disruption to air services”.

The call for urgent attention to air transport issues with Brexit follows the release of an IATA-commissioned study of the effects of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on airlines flying to and from the UK. The report, ‘A study of the effects of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on airlines flying to and from the UK’, by Taylor Airey, in conjunction with Frontier Economics highlights that even in the best-case scenario, where a Brexit transition phase is agreed for the period after Mar-2019, a high degree of uncertainty and risk to air services remains.

IATA says a no-deal or ‘hard’ Brexit outcome, without an agreement for a transition period, is likely to lead to “significant disruption to air services”. Worryingly, the lack of transparency concerning any contingency planning for this scenario has left airlines completely in the dark as to what measures to take.

“These are the most critical areas because there are no fall-back agreements such as the WTO framework available in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario,” says Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO, IATA.

“Without any contingency planning being made transparent to the industry, the risks of not addressing these issues could mean chaos for travellers and interrupted supply chains. With less than six months to go, we have little more certainty than we did in June 2016,” he adds.

The ideal outcome for the industry would obviously be a comprehensive air services agreement that does not step backwards from the connectivity existing today. But at this late stage with less than six months to the departure date, no-one is clear what the rules will be, come that date.

“It is now essential that the EU and UK civil aviation authorities plan for contingency arrangements to maintain a minimum level of connectivity, which is vital for people and for business. This has to be one of the most important Brexit considerations. A backstop contingency plan to keep planes flying after March must be published, and quickly,” says Mr de Juniac.

Alongside the rights to fly,the safety and security framework for connectivity between the UK and EU is complex, comprehensive and IATA urges that whatever Brexit scenario unfolds, the UK should remain in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) at least as a ‘third country member’, and EASA and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) should be allowed to initiate detailed technical discussions on the future relationship between the two bodies. Despite the complexity of the political issues at stake, “safety and security should be non-negotiable,” says Mr de Juniac.

IATA says a no-deal Brexit could increase the likelihood of EU travellers being added to already long queues at UK passport control and while an alternative ‘third lane’ scenario that could process EU passengers more quickly is an option, investment would be required to recruit and train more staff.

]The situation regarding goods is even more complex, with almost no clarity on customs arrangements, according to IATA. The most likely scenario, even under a transition period, is for shipments to be delayed or disrupted, as new customs procedures become established.