The clock may be ticking on Brexit, but airlines remain largely in the dark as to what it will mean for their business prospects.
Speaking in a panel debate at World Routes 2017 entitled Spotlight in Europe, Flybe chief commercial officer Vincent Hodder said airlines are no clearer on what the move could mean than they were at Routes Europe 2017 in April.
He also expressed concern that the final details could be resolved in a last-minute rush, with vital details overlooked in the rush to complete a deal.
Hodder said: “Literally no-one knows what’s going to happen. The best we can do is go about our business as if everything is going to be fine.
“We expect to see a deal that will allow airlines from the UK to fly to Europe and airlines from Europe to fly to the UK.”
“But we just don’t know. We assume this will be fine but we’re getting to the point that when we get to March next year, we need to know what we are doing for summer 19.”
However, he added the future of intra-Europe flights operated by UK-based airlines like Flybe remained a mystery while additional cost would have to be accounted for with new sources of revenue.
“Everything is being left very late, by doing things at the last minute, something is likely to be forgotten.”
He argued this could be anything from a technical issue to a piece of regulation, adding: “Something we used to be able to do we will find we now can’t and it is going to be too late (to resolve).”
Bmi regional chief commercial officer Jochen Schnadt agreed, adding: “It is a concer. When we met in Belfast one could have reasonable optimism the issues are too big to be sidelined.
“Unfortunately there’s no positive aspect from our point of view at this point in time.”
Schnadt added the airline’s strategy of offering intra-European flights to the business traveller was proving to be effective and the airline is keen to pursue it.