Abta has welcomed an European Parliament vote in support of flights between the UK and the EU continuing in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The agreement comes after the UK government signalled it would afford EU carriers the same right. A final decision will be made by the European Council in due course.
It paves the way for UK airlines to make stops in EU countries and overfly EU airspace if no Brexit deal is agreed before March 29.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said a deal between the UK and the EU “should be the priority for politicians on both sides” but stressed no-deal Brexit arrangements were vital.
“This vote builds on previous reassurances holidaymakers and business travellers have had from both the EU and UK government that, deal or no deal, flights will continue, meaning people can book with confidence,” said Tanzer.
Citing Abta’s own Holiday Habits report, Tanzer said with 61% of UK citizens planning a trip to Europe this year, it was vital for both sides to maintain UK-EU flight connectivity.
“EU countries really value the contribution UK tourists make to their countries, generating £37 billion for their economies and supporting 870,000 jobs,” said Tanzer. “We know from our discussions with destinations they are keen to ensure travelling between the UK and the EU is as easy as possible after Brexit.”
Faced with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, Tanzer reiterated reaching a withdrawal deal remained Abta’s preferred outcome and urged politicians to “explore all operations to avoid no deal”.
“If the UK and the EU agree a deal, there will then be a transition period which means everything will stay the same until the end of 2020,” said Tanzer.
The European Commission initially said flights would be capped at summer 2018 levels in a no-deal Brexit. This has since been removed from its final legislation.
“Maintaining good aviation links is among the core priorities Abta has been lobbying for throughout the Brexit negotiations,” said Tanzer.
“Recently, we have worked very closely with Abta members and our contacts in destinations and Brussels to argue against limiting flight routes to summer 2018 levels and we’re pleased to see this has been taken on board.”