New draft guidelines touching on the sector were outlined by president of the European Council Donald Tusk on Wednesday (March 7) and have been welcomed by key figures in the UK’s aviation industry, who are urging negotiators put passengers at the heart of any talks.
Concerning aviation specifically, the six-page draft document reads: “The aim should be to ensure connectivity between the UK and the EU after UK withdrawal.
“This would require an air transport agreement, combined with an aviation safety agreement, while ensuring a strong level playing field in a highly competitive sector.”
Tusk said the proposal showed the union did not want to “build a wall between the EU and Britain” but stressed prime minister Theresa May’s insistence last week (Friday) the UK will leave the single market and the customs union made such new agreements inevitable.
In a joint statement, the Airports Council International (ACI) and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) said the announcement “charts the way forward” for any future aviation relationship and would “potentially reduce uncertainty” for the sector.
“Today’s draft EU guidelines for the post-Brexit relationship confirm specific air transport and air safety agreements will be needed to safeguard air connectivity between the UK and the EU.
“This is a welcome step – as this charts the way forward for the future aviation relationship and thus potentially reduces uncertainty for our sector.”
The ACI and AOA said the existing Single Aviation Market agreement was one of the EU’s foremost success stories, guaranteeing consumers access to more destinations than ever at low prices.
“ACI EUROPE and the UK Airport Operators Association urge negotiators to put the passenger at the heart of a future deal to ensure they continue to benefit from this excellent air connectivity, whether they live and work in the EU, or in the UK,” the statement added.
“We call both on EU27 and UK negotiators to seek a future agreement that mirrors as closely as possible today’s arrangements.
“We note that the draft EU guidelines do not consider the rights of UK airlines to keep flying within the EU27 nor the right of EU27 airlines to keep flying within the UK, as a result of the UK leaving the Single Aviation Market.
“These restrictions would result in a less competitive overall European aviation sector as a result of reduced operating flexibility and additional costs.”