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Routes News

04 May 2017

BY Edward Robertson

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TRFBLI

Open skies deal crucial, debate hears

A speedy agreement to maintain European open skies is in the interests of both parties in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

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"The UK government has said that aviation is a priority. But do other EU member states feel the same way?"

Bernard Lavelle, London City airport sales director, said although half of all UK aviation traffic goes into Europe, a tenth of all European traffic comes to the UK.

He used a debate on Brexit at Routes Europe 2017 to argue that it is vital that the status quo remains to ensure the best result for all.

Lavelle said: “Transport is the enabler of trade and aviation is a key part of that. Without aviation all European trade will be affected. The UK government has said that aviation is a priority. But do other EU member states feel the same way? I hope my [European counterparts] are having the same lobbying discussions with their governments that we are.”

Professor Keith Mason of Cranfield University’s centre for air transport management, agreed: “Although the EU is saying there will be no central deal, aviation might end up being excluded from that,” he said.

However, Mason admitted airline ownership remained an issue due to rules demanding EU airlines are majority owned by EU businesses.

Lavelle said: “Some of the airports which rely more on low-cost travel could be affected. It could be helped if easyJet [became a] spin-off European operation, as discussed.

“We have a lot of exposure to European markets but this hasn’t put off European airlines from investing; airlines must be confident that this will be resolved one way or another.”

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