| BRUSSELS/LONDON, March 21
BRUSSELS/LONDON, March 21 European airports on
Tuesday called on Britain and the EU to agree a back-up plan for
post-Brexit flying should they fail to agree a new relationship
before Britain quits the bloc, saying a return to decades-old
traffic rights deals should be avoided.
European Union-based airlines have the right to fly to and
from any country in the bloc or even within other member states
thanks to the single aviation market created in the 1990s.
Britain's vote to leave the EU means it has to renegotiate
that access, but the ruling out of sectoral deals by EU
officials has rattled the aviation industry, which has to plan
flight schedules well in advance and cannot rely on World Trade
Organisation (WTO) rules, unlike other sectors.
ACI Europe - the trade association representing Europe's
airports - said it was concerned about the lack of back-up or
transitional plan should Britain and the EU fail to agree a new
relationship within the two-year time frame provided for in
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that no deal is
better than a bad deal with the EU, but for aviation, in the
worst case scenario the uncertainty could ground planes.
"As responsible businesses, at this stage we simply cannot
rule out a cliff-edge scenario for Brexit and aviation," ACI
Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec said in a statement.
"This means that adequate contingencies need to be
established promptly in case the UK would exit the EU without
any agreement on its future relationship with the bloc."
Airlines last week called on Britain to provide clarity on
post-Brexit flying arrangements given that flight schedule
planning for summer 2019, when Britain is due to be out of the
EU, will begin in a year's time.
The absence of a deal governing flying rights between the EU
and Britain after the 2-year negotiating period ends could mean
airlines having to rely on older, more restrictive bilateral
provisions between the United Kingdom and the other 27 EU member
states, ACI Europe said.
"We would prefer not to fall back on those bilaterals, but
to get some sort of transition agreement that what we have today
can be safeguarded. But what we are hearing is that if there is
no agreement, there is also no transitional agreement," Jankovec
told journalists in London.
Britain said on Monday it would send Brussels its official
exit notification on March 29, triggering two years of
(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)