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Travel industry news

04 Apr 2018

BY James Chapple


Brexit countdown: Action on aviation vital with year to go

Agreeing new aviation policy providing unfettered access to EU airspace is of “paramount importance” with just a year to go until Brexit, travel leaders have warned.


Brexit countdown: Action on aviation vital with year to go

The industry last month welcomed the transitional period to January 2021 and Theresa May’s commitment to the UK’s participation with the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa).


However, concerns still remain about the country’s readiness to leave, particularly in respect of the open skies arrangement, visa-free travel and consumer rights enshrined in EU law, such as Ehic (health insurance) protection and EU261 compensation.


TTG this week approached a number of industry bodies to gauge their thoughts on progress, now the 12-month Brexit countdown has begun.


Derek Moore, Aito chairman, said the abundance of rumour rather than certainty raised questions over the competence of those negotiating Britain’s exit and whether they understand, or care, about the needs of the travel industry.


However, he acknowledged the transition period would give businesses time to make “proper plans” for Brexit – a notion echoed by Abta’s director of public affairs Alan Wardle, who said it would give consumers and businesses “a degree of confidence”.


“What needs to happen now is for the government to make progress setting out what the future relationship will look like,” he said, adding May’s stance on Easa recognised the importance of negotiating a deal on aviation.


Like Wardle, Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, said the biggest issue was “undoubtedly” the lack of progress on new aviation policy affecting intra-EU routes, followed by the “complete confusion” over the implementation of PTD on July 1.


Neil Armorgie, corporate product director and chief executive of the Win Global Travel Network, said the transition agreement had alleviated “some concerns” but stressed he appreciated the “complex” talks were unlikely to yield quick announcements.


"Megaphone negotiations by both sides did not help matters,” he added. “The visible progress is the fact we have agreed the divorce bill, have an agreement for a transition period and there are positive noises over a trading relationship.”


Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, sounded a more positive note: “We’re pleased with the progress, culminating in the transitional agreement,” he said.


“This will provide much needed clarity to consumers. Clearly, this is only a political agreement at this stage and so we look forward to legal clarity as soon as possible.


“The main thing from our perspective is the UK and EU begin work on securing a comprehensive aviation agreement ensuring the continuation of services beyond December 2020.


“The thing about aviation is it can be split off and dealt with well in advance – if we can get a deal done between now and the end of 2018, let’s get on and do it.”


What are the top five Brexit travel concerns?

What are the top five Brexit travel concerns?

TTG also asked the industry what it's main concerns were ahead of Brexit.


We've consolidated the list into the five general strands below.

  • Aviation policy – including open skies and Easa participation
  • Visa-free travel for leisure and for business, including overseas working regulations
  • Consumer rights currently enshrined in EU law (EHIC, EU261 compensation)
  • Changes to the Atol scheme and implementation of the PTD
  • Ensuring regulatory parity with the EU travel industry
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