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HOT TOPIC Brexit


giving easyJet free passage given how successful the airline has been in some EU states.


If the UK joins the ECAA, one thing airlines won’t be escaping is the continued adoption of EU regulations, including consumers’ rights under EU 261, which are a condition of acceptance. A lot depends on how rancorous the departure from the EU is as to whether there is effectively just a name change above the door or whether agreements are ripped up completely. As in the referendum campaign, immigration may play a big part, since if the UK insists on restricting the freedom of movement and right to work of EU citizens following Brexit, then the EU can choose not to ratify the UK’s ECAA membership or separate bilateral treaties. There could be some long discussions in Brussels over the next few years. Then there is the question of bilaterals with non-EU countries. The UK’s most important long-haul air routes are to the US, particularly New York. These are covered by an EU-US open skies agreement that will no longer be negotiated collectively by Brussels. In the case of the US, the “horizontal agreement” that now applies replaced the Bermuda II deal struck in the 1950s. A return to this agreement would be unthinkable as, for example, it barred Delta Air Lines from London’s Heathrow Airport until 2008. However, future discussions may have to revert to old style bilateral negotiations. During the referendum campaign a few


airlines said they would consider moving their operating bases to an EU country, so now Brexit has actually happened, what are they


thinking? bmi regional was one, but Jochen Schnadt, bmi regional’s COO, says the approach is very much “wait and see”. “Until we know what is going to happen, nothing is going to happen.” But he says: “We are pursuing a pan-European strategy – almost 50% of our capacity is outside the UK. If there are any impediments we will look at what we have to do – will we need another Airport Operator’s Certificate (AOC) in an EU country?” Schnadt believes


leisure traffic may take a dip because of price pressure, but that business fliers present “no immediate issues” and says bmi regional is well hedged. The Austrian adds he would be “very surprised” if the industry faced difficulties over workers’ citizenship post-Brexit. Ryanair, with its Irish AOC, is naturally


for Heathrow Airport?


One immediate effect of Brexit may be to close the door on


more forthright, saying that none of its new aircraft will now be placed in the UK. It is possibly best placed for Brexit, although the UK provides 40% of its sales, the EU is still a market of 440 million, so there is plenty of new ground to capture in the unlikely event that a solution cannot be found to enable it to continue its UK-based business. Dramatic changes seem certain at some point, but for the moment only one thing is sure: Brexit will not be as swift as England’s departure from Euro 2016 and so, on a whole raft of issues, the industry faces months and perhaps years of negotiations. £


expansion of London’s Heathrow Airport. If there is an award for optimism in the business world following Brexit, the airport must surely be a contender. Only 48 hours after the referendum


result was known, Heathrow issued a press release saying it was “time to get back to business” and approve a third runway. Unfortunately for the airport, expansion is unlikely to be near the top of new prime minster Theresa May’s to-do list, with the decision now delayed until “at least” October. The delay means a decision will


come at least 18 months after the Davies Commission report. Many are frustrated and for John Grant, industry analyst at airline guide OAG, this really is the big issue in the immediate post referendum period. “Brexit does not in any way undermine the need for additional capacity in London and the south-east, and it would be disappointing to see this result used as a reason to delay any decision,” he says. Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye argues that only Heathrow can help Britain “be the great trading nation connecting all regions of the UK to the world” – but has otherwise declined to comment. It might make him feel better if


he considers Gibraltar, where 96% of residents voted to remain. Gibraltar’s airfield is owned by the UK’s Ministry of Defence and its airport terminal by the Gibraltan government, which might make for some interesting negotiations with Spain over air traffic rights. A Gibraltan government


Gibraltar’s airfield is owned by the UK, but its airport terminal by the Gibraltan government


34 ISSUE 5 ROUTES NEWS 2016 routesonline.com


spokesperson would not be drawn. “People should not expect any dramatic changes for a considerable period of time,” he said.


What now


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