LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday it would match an offer by the European Union to protect airlines’ flying rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit, tackling one of the main concerns that planes could be grounded and lead to travel chaos.
The Department for Transport said the government was still working to secure a withdrawal and transition deal with Brussels, but that as part of its preparations for all eventualities it had agreed to reciprocate EU plans.
The EU executive has proposed allowing British airlines to fly to and from EU airports for 12 months after March 29, assuming Britain offered equivalent rights to EU airlines.
Britain said on Thursday for the 12 month period it intended to grant EU air carriers a level of access to the UK at least equivalent to the rights that would be granted to UK airlines under the EU’s regulation.
“This includes traffic rights, ownership and control, leasing of aircraft, cooperative marketing arrangements and fair competition,” it said.
It said it would also go further and allow member state airlines to operate wholly within the UK for the IATA summer season 2019, which ends on 27 October 2019, to maintain connections between regional bases.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary had been vocal in warning that planes could be grounded if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. Rival easyJet has established a new airline in Austria to protect its rights. (Reporting by Kate Holton. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)